By Michelle Graff

New York--A court-appointed examiner is expected to take a closer look at Nirav Modi’s ties to the U.S. companies he owns that are now in bankruptcy.

William K. Harrington, the U.S. trustee overseeing the bankruptcy case of A. Jaffe Inc., Firestar Diamond Inc. and Fantasy Inc., filed a memorandum requesting the appointment of an examiner to “provide … transparency and clarity as to the role, if any, Modi plays or has played with respect to these Chapter 11 cases,” court papers state. 

Specifically, the independent party would investigate the relationship between the companies and any entity under the direct or indirect control of Modi to determine: whether and to what extent Modi or any of his entities have the ability to direct or influence the conduct, decisions or actions of  A. Jaffe, Firestar and Fantasy in the Chapter 11 case; whether any current company executives “actively and knowingly participated in fraud or dishonesty;” and whether any claims or causes of actions in favor of the debtors might arise from any alleged fraud, court papers state.

A. Jaffe and Firestar Diamond/Fantasy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February in order to distance themselves from Modi and reorganize their businesses given that their main source of supply, Modi’s factories in India, has been cut off.

In the filing, the companies denied any involvement in Modi’s fraud in India, stating that they were working “tirelessly” to “reassure their vendors and customers that they had no involvement in the alleged wrongful conduct.”
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Modi is the Indian diamantaire who is accused of cheating the state-owned Punjab National Bank out of nearly $2 billion, an allegation he has denied.

Modi left India shortly before news of his alleged fraud broke in January and Indian officials have been on the hunt for him since. This week, the Times of India reported that the billionaire is believed to be hiding in Hong Kong but authorities there have not given India’s Ministry of External Affairs any information about his exact whereabouts.

Harrington filed the request for appointment of an examiner on March 30.

Ian Winters, the attorney representing A. Jaffe, Firestar and Fantasy, said Wednesday that his clients have no objection to the appointment.

The judge is expected to enter the order for appointment Thursday. After that, the trustee will interview candidates and select an individual for the position. 

Winters said he does not expect the involvement of the examiner to impact the sale or the timing of the sale.

The current timeline for the sale or sales of A. Jaffe and Firestar Diamond/Fantasy Inc. calls for it to close by mid-May.

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