Pronouncing the verdict on Nirav Modi, the fugitive diamond merchant who is lodged in Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, a UK court on Thursday said that it was satisfied there is evidence that jeweller Nirav Modi, wanted for fraud and money laundering in the Rs 14,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, could be convicted.

Nirav Modi, who is facing charges of fraud and money laundering in the PNB) scam case, had contested his extradition to India as he appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of District Judge Samuel Goozee.

District Judge Samuel Goozee observed that there were “clearly links between Nirav Modi and other connivers including officials of the bank”.

“Mr Modi personally subsequently wrote to PNB acknowledging the debt and promising to repay. The CBI is investigating that Nirav Modi firms were dummy partners,” District Judge Samuel Goozee noted adding that these companies were shadow companies operated by Nirav Modi.

“I do not accept that Nirav Modi was involved in a legitimate business. I find no genuine transactions and believe there is a process of dishonesty.

“The manner in which Letters of Undertaking were obtained, the combination as a whole, takes us to the conclusion that Nirav Modi and co were fraudulently operating,” he said.

“Many of these are a matter for trial in India. I am satisfied again that there is evidence he could be convicted. Prima facie there is a case of money laundering,” said the judge adding that they have received 16 volumes of evidence from India and that “I accept submissions made by the government of India.”

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had approached the Interpol to locate diamantaire Nirav Modi and his family accused of multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud in March 2018.

ED had sent a request to the Interpol aimed at locating and arresting Modi who left the country along with his family in January 2018, weeks before the scam was reported to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The move was part of a money trail probed by the ED and the CBI after cases were registered against 49-year-old Modi and his business partner and uncle Mehul Choksi, promoter of Gitanjali Group, for defrauding PNB.

The Enforcement Directorate had in June 2019 said that it has attached four Swiss bank accounts of Nirav Modi and his sister Purvi with a balance of Rs 283 crore.