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PNB fraud case: UK court further remands diamantaire Nirav Modi till 24 May, full hearing scheduled on 30 May

A London court on Friday further remanded till 24 May fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is undergoing extradition proceedings in the United Kingdom in the about Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

Fugitive Businessman Nirav Modi's bail rejected by London Court, next date of hearing in the case is May 24. (file pic) pic.twitter.com/m3Nv7vQWew

The 48-year-old, who has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his arrest last month, appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot via videolink from the jail.

The very brief hearing ended with judge further remanding Modi till 24 May. She scheduled a full hearing on 30 May.

Last month, the diamond merchant's second bail application was rejected by a lower court in London, said a PTI report.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian authorities through the extradition process in the UK courts, said Modi intended to appeal against Judge Emma Arbuthnot's decision to turn down his bail plea at the end of a hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 29 March on the grounds that there was a “substantial risk he would fail to surrender”.

“Mr Modi intends to appeal his bail decision, but he has not yet submitted the appeal,” a CPS spokesperson confirmed early this month.

 PNB fraud case: UK court further remands diamantaire Nirav Modi till 24 May, full hearing scheduled on 30 May

A file photo of Nirav Modi. News18

The diamond merchant has been behind bars at HMP Wandsworth in south-west London ever since his first bail application was rejected on 20 March.

“This is a case of substantial fraud, with a loss to a bank in India of between $1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case,” the judge had noted.

The court was told that Modi's son, who had been at a school in London, had now left for higher studies in the US, which led the judge to conclude that Modi not only had a “lack of community ties” in the UK but also large resources at his disposal to try and flee the country.

Modi's attempt to acquire the citizenship of Vanuatu in late 2017 also went against him as the judge said it seemed like he was trying to “move away from India at an important time”.

Nirav Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers from a Metro Bank branch in central London as he attempted to open a new bank account on 19 March.

During his first court appearance a day after, it emerged that the diamantaire accused of defrauding PNB via fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) had been 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/regions such as the UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Last week, the government removed Enforcement Directorate's (ED) special director in Mumbai, Vineet Agarwal, for his alleged interference in relieving the agency's investigating officer in the Nirav Modi money-laundering case without following due procedure, PTI reported quoting officials.

They said the tenure of Agarwal has been cut short by three years and the 1994-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Maharashtra cadre has been repatriated to his home state with immediate effect.

The charge has now been handed over in an "additional capacity" to the agency's special director based in Chennai.

Agarwal was sent on deputation to the ED in January 2017 for five years by the Central government.

His name cropped up on 29 March after he issued an order relieving his joint director in Mumbai, Satyabrat Kumar, from the Modi case probe when the court hearing in the extradition case of the absconding diamantaire was underway in London.

As a controversy erupted in the sensitive case, being monitored at top levels of the government, ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra issued a fresh order in Delhi and cancelled Agarwal's signed order, within a few hours.

With PTI inputs

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Updated Date: Apr 26, 2019 16:01:02 IST