With fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi spotted in London, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Saturday the government was aware of his whereabouts, and that its extradition request for the absconding billionaire wa “still pending” with the United Kingdom authorities. Nirav Modi is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case, and the Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against him.
The government’s response came after the The Telegraph newspaper of the UK claimed in an exclusive report, supported by a video, that Nirav Modi was in London.
“You are aware that we had made the request based on the information received from the ED (Enforcement Directorate) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). We had made the request for Nirav Modi’s extradition with the UK authorities in August last year,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a press conference in New Delhi.
Notwithstanding the visuals, he said, “status remains the same”.
“UK is still to respond and is considering our request for extradition of Nirav Modi,” Kumar added.
He said India had made the extradition request for Nirav Modi from the UK, “as it was aware that he was in UK”.
“Because he (Nirav Modi) has been spotted in UK doesn’t mean that he can be immediately brought back to India as there is a process. We have made a request. It is for the UK government now to consider our request and respond to the CBI and the ED demands for his extradition,” said the MEA spokesperson.
Asked to share the timeline of the last communication received from the UK, he said: “As far as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is concerned, when we make a request for extradition then that request is sent on behalf of the investigative agencies. And in the last six months we have not received any request for any other documents.”
According to Raveesh Kumar, ED had sent a request to MEA in early August 2018, and the ministry had forwarded that. The CBI sent a similar request a few days later the same month.
“What we have been communicated is that both the requests are under consideration of the UK government,” said Kumar.
Asked about the steps being taken to extradite other fugitives such as Vijay Mallya, he said: “We are following all the cases on priority. We will take all necessary steps.”
Earlier, a video released by The Telegraph newspaper showed Nirav Modi, sporting a handle bar moustache and long hair, walking the streets in London. His response to every question posed by the reporter was: “no comment”.
The report said Nirav Modi was in the West End area of London and had even started a new diamond business.
On February 26, ED attached properties to the tune of Rs 147 crore belonging to Nirav Modi and his associate companies in connection with the PNB fraud probe.
On 8 March, authorities in Raigad carried out a blast to raze Modi’s Kihim beach bungalow in Alibaug, using over 100 dynamite sticks strategically placed within and outside the bungalow, amid tight security.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under probe by both the CBI and the ED, which has till date attached properties worth Rs 4,765 crore of Choksi and Nirav Modi.