• Monday, August 15, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

UK court okays extradition of Nirav Modi; Priti Patel to make the final ruling

Nirav Modi

By: Pramod Thomas

A fugitive Indian jeweller on Thursday (25) lost his bid to avoid extradition from Britain to face claims of involvement in a massive bank fraud.

District Judge Sam Goozee told Nirav Modi at a court hearing in central London there was enough evidence to suggest there was a criminal case against him in his homeland.

Modi fled India in February 2018 after being accused of having a central role in a $2 billion fraud involving Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Before the alleged fraud, which rocked corporate India, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $1.73 billion, placing him 85th on India’s rich list.

Modi, who owned luxury jewellery stores across the world with celebrity customers, including Hollywood and Bollywood stars, was arrested in London in March 2019.

The 49-year-old is accused of defrauding the bank — which is one of India’s biggest public lenders — and laundering the proceeds, as well as witness intimidation and destroying evidence.

Judge Goozee dismissed submissions from his legal team that he would not be treated fairly in India, and said there was not enough evidence from doctors to believe he was a suicide risk.

Modi, dressed in a dark suit and white shirt, attended the hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court via videolink from prison where he is being held on remand.

Goozee said the matter would be sent to home secretary Priti Patel to make the final ruling on extradition. The home secretary has two months to make a decision.

According to reports, the home secretary’s order rarely goes against the court’s conclusions, as she has to consider only some very narrow bars to extradition which are unlikely to apply in this case, including the possible imposition of a death penalty.

Following this, Modi has 14 days to approach the high court and seek leave to appeal after the home secretary’s decision.

Any appeal, if granted, will be heard at the administrative division of the high court in London, reports said.

Modi’s legal battle marks one of a number of high-profile extradition cases involving accused Indian economic offenders in the UK.

While former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya remains on bail as a “confidential” matter related to his extradition to India is resolved, accused arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s extradition case is scheduled for its next hearing in April.

In February 2020, wanted cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla was extradited to face charges in India and became the first extradition of its kind under the India-UK Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992.

A previous extradition of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted in connection with the Godhra riots in Gujarat, from the UK to India in October 2016 had been uncontested and therefore did not have to go through various levels of appeals in the UK courts.

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