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PNB scam: UK court denies bail to Nirav Modi, says he may not surrender; diamantaire remanded in custody till 29 March

Nirav Modi, the main accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, has been arrested in London where a court on Wednesday remanded the fugitive diamantaire in custody till 29 March, saying there substantial grounds to believe that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.

"Nirav Deepak Modi, 48, was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities on Tuesday in Holborn," the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

He was produced before the Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, where he contested his extradition to India.

Apart from claiming that the charges against him were politically motivated, Modi said in the bail plea that he has a 5-year-old child to look after. He also offered £500,000 as security deposit.

 PNB scam: UK court denies bail to Nirav Modi, says he may not surrender; diamantaire remanded in custody till 29 March

File image of Nirav Modi. News 18

District Judge Marie Mallon denied bail to Modi and remanded him in custody till 29 March, saying there was substantial grounds to believe that he would fail to surrender if granted bail.

His arrest came days after a London court issued an arrest warrant against him in response to a request by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for his extradition in a money laundering case.

The location of the arrest indicates that Modi, wanted in India in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore PNB scam case, was arrested from where he is believed to have been living in a plush apartment in Centre Point in the West End.

ED to sell 173 paintings, 11 vehicles of Modi

Meanwhile in another setback for Modi, the ED will sell 173 paintings and 11 vehicles "beneficially owned" by him after agency obtained permission from a special court in Mumbai on Wednesday, officials said.

The same court, they said, also issued a non-bailable warrant against his wife Ami after the ED recently filed a supplementary charge sheet underlining her role in PNB scam.

The ED will put on sale the 173 paintings of Modi which are valued at Rs 57.72 crore and eleven vehicles that include Rolls Royce, Porsche, Mercedes and Toyota Fortuner.

A public auction will be held later this month, the officials said. The court, they said, also allowed the Income Tax Department to sell another 68 paintings seized by it as part of its separate probe against the absconding diamantaire.

The Nirav Modi case is expected to follow a similar pattern through the UK courts as that of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017 on fraud and money laundering charges.

The 63-year-old businessman has since filed an application seeking leave to appeal against his extradition ordered by UK home secretary Sajid Javid last month.

Javid had certified India's extradition request for Modi earlier this month, triggering the legal process in the courts, kick-started with the issuance of a warrant.

News of the certification of India's request came just as Modi was tracked down to a three-bedroom flat in the Centre Point tower block of luxury apartments in the West End of London.

He is believed to have arrived in London last year and was able to travel in and out of Britain at least four times since his passport was cancelled by the Indian authorities in February 2018.

During some of his stay in London he was reportedly also living in the heart of the city above his jewellery boutique called “Nirav Modi” on Old Bond Street, which has since closed down.

Modi is now believed to be running a new business, which describes itself on the UK's Companies House register as a wholesale trader in watches and jewellery and a retailer of watches and jewellery in specialised stores.

Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, are the main accused in the PNB scam and they both left India before the details of the fraud came to light in January 2018.

With PTI inputs

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Updated Date: Mar 20, 2019 19:28:04 IST