Nirav Modi’s UK trial to begin in September

A UK court on Thursday (6) extended the custody of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who is fighting extradition to India on charges over the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, until August 27.

The Westminster Magistrates’ court in London held that the next hearing in the matter will be a case management one ahead of a five-day trial scheduled to begin from September 7.

Modi appeared via videolink before the court.

“You (Modi) will appear via videolink again. Your lawyers may be present in court,” District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said.

The trial will not only deal with arguments of establishing a prima facie case against Modi but will also hear a second extradition request from India over additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or “criminal intimidation to cause death”.

District Judge Samuel Goozee, who presided the first part of extradition trial, has already hinted that the requests made by New Delhi are “inextricably linked” and therefore he would be announcing an overall verdict post the conclusion of the second trial.

The 49-year-old diamond merchant is facing charges that are centred around fraudulent use of a credit service offered by the PNB, known as ‘letters of undertaking’ (LoUs).

Modi has denied all the charges and claimed that using LoUs is standard practice in gems trade.

The 49-year-old jeweller has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March last year. He appeared via videolink before the court for a regular 28-day “call-over” hearing.