The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will reportedly send a team to London for the hearing of Nirav Modi extradition case on March 29.
A Joint Director-level officer has been deputed to leave for London Wednesday with necessary documents.
Fugitive diamantaire and PNB scam accused Nirav Modi is set to appear before Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday when his legal team will make a second bail application.
Modi is wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges amounting to over Rs 13,000 crore.
The 48-year-old had been denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since last Wednesday.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) barrister Jonathan Swain, arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, had objected to Modi’s bail plea during last week’s hearing, stressing that he was wanted in India for “high value and sophisticated” fraud and money laundering amounting to USD 2 billion.
Judge Mallon had ruled in favour of the Indian authorities, saying that she was convinced Modi had the means and incentive to jump bail and “fail to surrender”.
The next hearing in the case is expected to be presided over by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the judge who ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya to India last December. That case is currently in the UK High Court as part of Mallya’s application seeking leave to appeal against her ruling.
“Further to the Mallya case, India now has a template to refer to when dealing with the extradition procedure of Nirav Modi from the UK,” said Sarosh Zaiwalla, Founder and Senior Partner at UK-based law firm Zaiwalla & Co.
Describing him as the “opposite of a flight risk” during the first bail application hearing last week, Modi’s defence team had offered 500,000 pounds as security and also submitted to any stringent conditions that may be imposed upon their client. It remains to be seen how they would further bolster that offer in order to convince the judge to grant bail during the second hearing, following which the case will proceed to a series of case management hearings and setting of a trial date.
It has emerged that the diamantaire accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank (PNB) via fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) had been working on building up his legal team against extradition proceedings since March last year.
The court was told that he has a contract of employment with Diamond Holdings Ltd in London for a monthly salary of 20,000 pounds since October last year and has been paying his local council tax.
It also emerged in court that Modi was in possession of multiple passports since revoked by the Indian authorities. While one passport is now in possession of the Metropolitan Police, a second expired passport is lying with the UK Home Office and a third with the UK’s Driving and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) for a driver’s licence.
Besides the passports, Modi also possesses multiple residency cards, some of them expired but covering countries such as the UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Nirav Modi’s arrest comes days after the UK recently referred India’s request for extraditing bank-fraud accused businessman to a court for initiating legal proceedings against the diamantaire after finding his case “fit for extradition”.
British daily The Telegraph had earlier spotted Modi walking on the London streets and reported that he was living in a swanky 8 million pound apartment in West End and was now involved in a new diamond business.
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.
Both left India in January last year before the CBI started investigating the PNB scam.
According to investigating officials, Modi had left India on January 1, 2018, much before the CBI received a complaint from Punjab National Bank (PNB) on January 29, 2018, about the fraud.
(With PTI inputs)