Jeweller Nirav Modi, accused of involvement in the Punjab National Bank fraud, frequently changed his address in the UK to evade punitive action— at least thrice in a short span of time, said people with knowledge of the matter.
“Nirav Modi was constantly shifting his base. From central UK he moved to Manchester recently before moving into a flat in London. Our agencies were keeping tabs on him,” said a senior government functionary requesting anonymity.
The UK home office told the Indian authorities on March 8 that India’s request to extradite Modi had been certified. The move will now be considered by the Westminister Magistrates’ Court.
The Indian agencies told the British authorities that Modi had travelled outside the UK on three occasions despite his passport having been revoked in February last year. This was despite repeated reminders sent to the British.
“It is a matter of serious concern and probe that he (Modi) managed to travel thrice outside the UK. Dates of his travel were shared with the British authorities seeking immediate attention,” said the person cited above.
The Indian agencies are awaiting Modi’s formal arrest. “It has been observed that normally London courts do not overturn the sanction authorised by the home secretary.
As per procedure, a formal arrest should be issued, following which Nirav Modi will be formally taken into custody and released on bail,” said another official.
“After the court sets the ball rolling, the extradition proceedings will be initiated and we (Indian agencies) will present their evidence seeking Modi’s extradition.” In a related development, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a supplementary charge sheet against Modi and others involved in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud last week before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai.
This details the method used in the $2 billion scam. It has also charged Modi’s wife Ami Modi with laundering millions of dollars through her bank account to purchase an apartment in London.
Modi was spotted in London’s West End last week by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, which reported that he’s running a new diamond business in the city.
India is also pursuing extradition proceedings against Modi’s uncle and co-accused Mehul Choksi, currently in Antigua.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED, Modi, Choksi and companies owned by them obtained more than Rs 13,000 crore from PNB through fraudulent Letters of Undertaking and Letters of Credit between 2011 and 2017. It was alleged that Modi and others committed the offence in connivance with bank officials.
In May last year, the CBI filed two separate charge sheets against the duo and other accused, including the top brass of PNB.