“They seek him here, they seek him there…. seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That demned elusive…” - Baroness Emma Orczy wrote in The Scarlet Pimpernel, first published in 1905.
That pretty much sums up India’s current disposition as it attempts to locate billionaire fugitive Nirav Modi, whose whereabouts are shrouded in mystery ever since the day the massive Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud surfaced.
Modi, wanted in India for allegedly colluding with several others to defraud the PNB of Rs 13,500 crore, seems to be playing “catch me if you can”.
The latest about Modi is a newspaper report that probably puts Leonardo DiCaprio's character -- Frank Abagnale Jr -- in the Steven Spielberg movie to shame. Because, according to The Indian Express, the Interpol has now informed Indian investigative agencies that Modi travelled to three countries as recently as March on an Indian passport that was supposedly revoked by New Delhi in February!
Modi reportedly traveled to the United States, the United Kingdom and to Hong Kong on his Indian passport between 15 March and 31 March, the newspaper report said.
Along with Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi's passport too was suspended, initially, for four weeks. A Ministry of External Affairs statement, in February, said, "on the advice of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the passport issuing authority in the MEA has …suspended the validity of passports of Nirav Deepak Modi and Mehul Chinubhai Choksi with immediate effect for a period of four weeks u/s 10(A) of the Passports Act 1967.”
So where is Modi?
Modi flees to Brussels
The jeweller reportedly fled to Brussels, Belgium, on either 13 or 12 June, but not on Indian passport. He’s apparently using a Singapore one. The Indian high commission in London is unsure if Modi is using an Indian passport.
But it’s strange that Modi has a Singapore passport because India does not allow dual citizenship. The Indian high commission in London had a rather whimsical answer to the predicament. "Money can buy anything," officials told The Times of India.
Shifts base to New York?
In April, it was reported that Modi shifted base to New York, United States. CNN-News18 said it had accessed a government dossier that tracked Modi’s movements since he left Mumbai on 1 January, 2018. The report claimed that Modi first fled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Mumbai, from where he moved to Hong Kong. However, when the Indian government took up the matter with Chinese authorities, and requested provisional arrest, Nirav fled, via London, to New York.
Lands in Hong Kong?
On 5 April, the Ministry of External Affairs submitted a request to Hong Kong authorities for Modi’s provisional arrest. "The Ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People's Republic of China, for which a request has been submitted to them on 23 March, 2018," V K Singh, the Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a written response to a question in the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha. Based on inputs gathered from intelligence sources, investigating agencies had confirmed that Modi was in Hong Kong, reported The Hindu.
An India Today report on 19 February claimed that investigative agencies had received a tip-off that Modi could have reached Dubai, in the UAE. Modi's legal team had reportedly confirmed they were Dubai, the TV channel had said.
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Updated Date: Jun 14, 2018 18:24:55 IST