TORONTO: Jeweller Nirav Modi, who is wanted in a multi-crore banking fraud in India, allegedly sold fake diamond rings to a Canadian national that cost him US$200,000, his girlfriend and also pushed him into depression.
Paul Alfonso, who had no clue Modi was involved in a US$2 billion fraud at India’s Punjab National Bank, bought two rings from the diamantaire in Hong Kong to propose to his girlfriend. Their celebration was cut short after the duo found out that the diamonds were fake.
According to the report, Alfonso met Nirav Modi in 2012 at the centennial celebrations for the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2012. Months later, they ran into each other in Malibu and dined together. Adding that Modi was giving him “pep talk, kind of an older brother figure,” Alfonso, who is the chief executive of a payment processing company, said he felt a “good connection” with Modi. “In a way, I admired him and I looked up to him.”
A couple of years passed without any communication between the duo. In April this year, Alfonso, utterly unaware of the financial irregularities cases listed against Modi, mailed the diamond jeweller asking for “special” engagement ring at a budget of US$100,000 to propose to his girlfriend. On offer from Modi was a “perfect” 3.2-carat round brilliant diamond cut, D colour, VVS1 – a high-quality grade and colourless stone at US $120,000. “Thank you for thinking of me when you’re making one of the most meaningful purchases in any man’s life,” Modi reportedly wrote after Alfonso approved the design.
Alfonso’s girlfriend, however, expressed interest in another ring prompting him to order a second ring — a 2.5 carat oval diamond for US$80,000 from Modi. After Alfonso wired the money for both rings to a Hong Kong account, he received the rings from Modi’s assistant Ari in June. The invoice and authenticity certificates were to be wired soon. Alfonso, who was ecstatic with the “absolutely gorgeous” jewellery, proposed to his girlfriend with both rings. The answer was “yes”.