Wanted for fraud and money laundering in the INR 14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, a UK court today ordered the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi after a nearly two-year-long legal battle and accepted the Indian case that he threatened witnesses and tampered with evidence.
Modi, who is incarcerated in Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, appeared via video-conferencing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, where District Judge Samuel Goozee is set to hand down his judgment on whether the jeweller has a case to answer before the Indian courts.
“Many of these are a matter for trial in India. I am satisfied again that there is evidence he could be convicted,” the court said. The magistrates' court ruling will then be sent back to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for a sign-off, with the possibility of appeals in the High Court on either side depending on the outcome.
Nirav Modi was arrested on an extradition warrant on March 19, 2019, and has appeared for a series of court hearings in the extradition case. His multiple attempts at seeking bail have been repeatedly turned down, both at the Magistrates' and High Court level, as he was deemed a flight risk.
He is the subject of two sets of criminal proceedings, with the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through by obtaining illegal letters of undertaking (LoUs) or loan agreements, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
Modi’s legal battle marks one of a number of high-profile extradition cases involving accused Indian economic offenders in the UK. While former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya remains on bail as a “confidential” matter related to his extradition to India is resolved, accused arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s extradition case is scheduled for its next hearing in April.
In February 2020, wanted cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla was extradited to face charges in India and became the first extradition of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992.