New Delhi/London: Fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi, wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, has been arrested in London, where a court on Wednesday remanded him in custody till March 29.
Nirav Modi was produced before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, where he contested his extradition to India. District judge Marie Mallon denied bail to Modi and remanded him in custody till March 29, saying there was substantial grounds to believe that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.
“Nirav Modi (48) was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities on Tuesday in Holborn,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement in London. His arrest came days after a London court issued an arrest warrant against him in response to a request by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his extradition in a money-laundering case.
Modi, dressed in a plain white shirt and trousers, appeared in the dock where he spoke only to confirm his name and also to formally decline consent to be extradited to India.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian authorities in court, told the court that Modi was wanted in India for fraud and money-laundering amounting to the tune of $2 billion. Under UK domestic law, the CPS said he was liable to be charged with conspiracy to fraud, which has a maximum jail term of seven years, and conspiracy to conceal, which could result in anywhere between seven to 10 years or even a life term in jail.
“We do object to bail because there are substantial grounds to believe the requested person (Modi) would fail to surrender,” said barrister Jonathan Swain, who appeared for the CPS and on behalf of the Indian government. Modi’s legal team was headed by barrister George Hepburne-Scott, and his solicitor, Anand Doobay, is the same legal expert hired by former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition proceedings against India in the UK courts. Modi’s team made their case for bail, offering £500,000 as security and an offer to adhere to stringent conditions.
“He strongly contests all the allegations and is prepared with comprehensive arguments to support his case... His legal team has had months of contact with the extradition squad and expressed his willingness to cooperate,” Mr Hepburne-Scott said. It emerged in court that Modi was arrested from a Metro Bank branch in London by uniformed officers on Tuesday when he went there to open a new account. Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, are the main accused in the PNB scam and they both left India before the details of the fraud came to light in January 2018. His diamond-encrusted designs were worn by Hollywood stars like Kate Winslet, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Naomi Watts, while Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra-Jonas has appeared in several advertisements for the brand.