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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has stated that the role of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas in relation to the multi-crore PNB scam triggered by Nirav Modi requires further investigation.
The agency has made this claim in a chargesheet filed in the Special CBI Court at Mumbai, which is currently hearing the case.
As reported previously, the Mumbai office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas was raided by a CBI team earlier this year in connection with the scam.
The chargesheet, a copy of which has been accessed by Bar & Bench, reveals the details pertaining to the law firm’s alleged role.
“…after registration of the case by CBI, in order to escape from the due process of law and with intent to cause disappearance of vital documents/evidence pertaining to the fraudulent LoUs…Nirav Modi got concealed the said documents in the office premises of M/s Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, a Law Firm at its office at Peninsula Corporate Park, Lower Parel, Mumbai…”
The document goes on to reveal that after a search under Section 165 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was conducted at the office premises of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, a large number of incriminating documents running into 24,500 pages were seized.
A few days after the search, Cyril Amarchand employees had brought a tempo truck containing cartons of documents to the CBI office.
It is also stated that two of the accused in the PNB scam - Vipul Ambani and Nehal Modi - had met with the firm’s Managing Partner Cyril Shroff and Partner Shaneen Parikh before the incriminating documents were concealed in the firm’s office.
Correspondence between Parikh and Nirav Modi also finds mention in the chargesheet. In an email sent in May 2018, Parikh had conveyed to Modi that boxes of original papers, seals, rubber stamps and blank letterheads were sent to the firm’s office, which was highly unusual and totally irrelevant for professional work and contrary to express instructions to send only copies of the documents. Parikh had sent copies of all emails between her Nirav Modi to the CBI relating to this issue. In this context, the FIR states,
“She [Parikh] termed the conduct of Nirav Modi as treacherous and reprehensible and mentioned that their firm may initiate legal proceedings at an appropriate time for his (Nirav Modi) improper conduct.”
The total amount of funds transferred to Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas was Rs. 2,12,89,235, the CBI further states.
In light of this information, the CBI contends that the role of the law firm in the scam requires more attention.
“Further investigation is also required to be conducted regarding the role of M/s Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, Mumbai in concealment of large number of incriminating documents in the office premises of the said firm and receipt of funds from Nirav Modi in the account of the said firm.”
Additionally, the CBI has requested the court to take cognisance of charges against Nirav Modi and 29 other accused for offences under Sections 120B, 420, 409, and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, as well as offences under Section 13(2) r/w Sections 13(1) (c) and (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
When asked for comment, Cyril Shroff responded,
“We have not been furnished with nor seen a copy of the charge sheet presumably as we are not parties. We have only seen press reports.
The firm has acted purely in a professional capacity. It has cooperated fully with the agencies. The firm has done nothing wrong and denies any suggestion of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
We are unable to comment further at this stage."