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Disgraced jewellery mogul Nirav Modi can be extradited to India from the UK, a judge has ruled.
Disgraced jewellery mogul Nirav Modi can be extradited to India from the UK, a judge has ruled.

Court rules to extradite disgraced jewellery mogul Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi, the celebrity diamond dealer at the centre of a $US1.8 billion ($AU2.3 billion) fraud, can be extradited to India, a UK court has ruled.

Appearing via video link at Westminster Magistrates Court in February, Modi heard that there was enough evidence to warrant his extradition to India to face trial.

District Judge Samuel Goozee said, “I am satisfied on the evidence that a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering is established.” 

"I am satisfied on the evidence that a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering is established"
District Judge Samuel Goozee

Goozee dismissed the defence’s claims that Modi would not receive a fair trial in India, and that he should not be extradited due to concerns about his mental health.

Modi is believed to have fled India in February 2018 after he was accused of committing a multibillion-dollar fraud against Punjab National Bank (PNB), the country’s biggest lender.

Indian authorities allege the jewellery mogul was behind a scheme to obtain fraudulent loans between 2011 and 2018. It is believed he conspired with bank official to fraudulently obtain Letters of Understanding (LoUs) for unsecured credit from PNB.

These LoUs were then used to repay old LoUs as part of a ‘Ponzi-like’ scheme, with the proceeds laundered through several international companies he controlled.

Modi was arrested in London in March 2019 after being recognised by a bank clerk and has been in custody there ever since.

He has had several bail attempts denied on the grounds that he poses an immediate fight risk and possesses the capabilities to intimidate witnesses.

In addition to fraud and money laundering, Modi also faces charges of destroying evidence and intimidating a witness. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Judge Goozee’s ruling will be sent to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for approval; if his extradition is approved by Patel, Modi has up to 14 days to appeal.

Earlier in February, Modi’s sister Purvi Mehta and her husband agreed to testify against him in exchange for a pardon.

Modi’s uncle Mehul Choksi, the former chairman of jewellery conglomerate Gitanjali Group, has also been charged in relation to the fraud. Choksi has resided in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda since 2017 and claimed citizenship there in January 2018 through the country’s Citizenship By Investment program.

However, shortly after the Modi ruling, Indian authorities confirmed Choksi's citizenship had been revoked – leaving him open to extradition.

An unidentified officer with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Hindustan Times newspaper, “Antigua cancelled his citizenship sometime last year after which he has approached a civil court in [the capital city] Saint John’s. We believe he will lose his appeal as he is fighting the Antiguan government on a well-established investment scheme, which he misused.”

Modi’s younger brother Nehal Modi, who was also implicated in the PNB fraud, is currently facing court in the US for allegedly fraudulently obtaining diamonds worth $US2.6 million ($AU3.4 million) in 2015. Nehal Modi holds Belgian citizenship, making extradition to India unlikely.

 

More Reading:
Nirav Modi extradition trial to conclude this month
Member of Modi family indicted over $3.4 million diamond 'fraud'
Nirav Modi extradition case edges forward
Nirav Modi's 'Ponzi scheme' extradition trial begins in London
Fugitive diamond dealer Nirav Modi arrested
Indian jeweller linked to bank fraud scheme charged
Potential ramifications for jewellery industry after mammoth bank fraud case











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