UK court allows extradition of diamond billionaire Nirav Modi to India

PTI file photo
PTI file photo

He faces several sets of charges relating to an alleged large-scale fraud at the Punjab National Bank.


Published: Thu 25 Feb 2021, 4:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Feb 2021, 5:59 PM

Diamond tycoon Nirav Modi has lost his bid to avoid extradition from Britain to India to face allegations he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud.

District Judge Samuel Goozee ruled in London on Thursday that the jeweler has a case to answer before the Indian courts. Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood, has been held without bail in London. He has 14 days to appeal the judge's decision.

Goozee dismissed Modi's argument that he would not be treated fairly in India.

Modi has refused to submit to extradition to India and denies the fraud allegations. He sought political asylum in the UK.

Indian authorities have sought Modi's arrest since February 2018, when they alleged companies he controlled defrauded the state-owned Punjab National Bank by using fake financial documents to get loans to buy and import jewels.

The extradition matter now goes to the UK Home Office.A London court ruled on Thursday that billionaire Indian diamond magnate Nirav Modi could be extradited to his home country to face charges of fraud, money laundering and interfering with an investigation.

Modi, whose diamonds have been worn by the likes of Kate Winslet and Dakota Johnson, was arrested in Britain in March 2019 and has been in custody since then, appearing at court hearings by video-link from Wandsworth Prison.

He faces several sets of charges relating to an alleged large-scale fraud at the Punjab National Bank, to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud, and to alleged intimidation of witnesses and disappearance of evidence.

Modi has denied any wrongdoing.

District Judge Samuel Goozee, of Westminster Magistrates Court, said India had provided sufficient evidence to establish that he had a case to answer.

“I am satisfied that there is evidence upon which (Modi) could be convicted in relation to the conspiracy to defraud the (Punjab National Bank). A prima face case is established,” he said in the judgment.

That does not mean the judge said Modi would be convicted, but rather that there was evidence he should answer at trial.

Goozee also said there was a prima facie case on the issue of alleged conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, including on an alleged death threat against a witness.

The judge rejected the defence team’s argument that extradition would be oppressive due to Modi’s poor mental health.

He also considered evidence about prison conditions in India. The Indian government told the court Modi would be held at Barrack No 12 at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, and provided precise details about the conditions there, including a video.

In accordance with English law, the case now goes to British Home Secretary (interior minister) Priti Patel, who will make the final decision on whether Modi is extradited.

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