22 March 2019
British police arrested fugitive billionaire Nirav Modi on behalf of the Indian authorities, British police said on Wednesday. India had asked Britain in August last year to extradite Modi. Modi perpetrated $2bn loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), India’s biggest banking fraud. PNB is the second-largest bank in India. Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded the bank by raising credit from other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff who were bribed by Modi.
Modi, a third-generation diamond trader is said to have a net worth $1.73bn according to Forbes, placing him 85th on India’s rich list. Modi and Choksi left India before the details of the fraud became public.
The 48-year-old Nirav Modi’s case once again hit the limelight when a reporter of British newspaper The Telegraph chanced upon him on a London street earlier this month. He refused to answer questions posed by the journalist.
Nirav Modi’s brother Nishal and his sister Purvi are believed to be in London while his uncle, Mehul Chowksi is in Antigua. Indian government has requested extradition of Mehul Chowksi from Antigua.
In December, a British court agreed that another high-profile Indian businessman, aviation tycoon Vijay Mallya, could be extradited to his homeland to face fraud charges. Mallya is currently appealing the decision. In India a number of banks got together to initiate legal proceedings against him to recover an outstanding due of over $1.3 billion.
A prominent lawyer in the UK said that it will take a long time before Nirav Modi is extradited. The lawyer said that Vijay Mallya was arrested and bailed out nearly two months later, and his extradition hearings began after that. Nirav Modi will be subjected to a re-run of the Mallya case proceedings. After the court rules for Modi’s extradition, the British Home Secretary would be expected to sign the order for compliance. At this stage, complications could arise only if Modi has already acquired the citizenship of any European country or other international citizenship.
Mehul Choksi has already acquired the citizenship of Antigua & Barbados, and he had surrendered his Indian passport to India’s High Commission in Guyana. Modi has sought political asylum in the UK. The lawyer said that the extradition proceedings are unlikely to begin until that asylum application is rejected. MSN reported.