PNB fraud case: Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi denied bail for third time by UK court
Nirav Modi's defence team doubled the bail security to £2 million and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat, but the judge was unconvinced.
The 48-year-old appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot and sat behind a glass enclosure
Nirav's defence team doubled the bail security to £2 million and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat
Nirav was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing on 20 March soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard
London: A UK court Wednesday denied bail to Nirav Modi for the third time, saying the fugitive diamond merchant who is the main accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud and money laundering case amounting to up to $2 billion would fail to surrender. Dressed in a light blue shirt and trousers, the 48-year-old appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot and sat behind a glass enclosure as the hearing got underway.
Nirav's defence team doubled the bail security to £2 million and offered he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat. "Conditions in Wandsworth (prison) are unliveable... Nirav is willing to abide by any conditions you choose to impose," his barrister Clare Montgomery told the judge during the lengthy hearing. However, the judge was not convinced. "This is a large fraud and the doubling of security to £2 million is not enough to cover a combination of concerns that he would fail to surrender (if bail is granted)," said judge Arbuthnot.
Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of Indian authorities, said Nirav should not be granted bail as the evidence presented by the defence does not amount to change of circumstances required to third bail application. Nirav's defence team, led by barrister Motgomery — who was also the barrister for former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case — opposed the CPS claims of Nirav being a flight risk.
He is believed to have been living in the UK on an Investor Visa, applied for in 2015, at a time when the so-called “golden visa” route was relatively easier for super-rich individuals to acquire residency rights in the UK based on a minimum of £2 million investment. He was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing on 20 March soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since then.
He was denied bail a second time on 29 March by Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot who ruled that there were "substantial grounds" to believe that he would fail to surrender and also noted that "very unusually in a fraud case" the accused had made death threats to witnesses. Nirav 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. He is wanted by India in relation to the Rs 13,500-crore PNB fraud case.
Nirav Modi is set to be produced from custody before Judge Arbuthnot for the first case management hearing in the case, during which a broad timeline is expected for his extradition trial.
PNB scam: High security cell kept ready in Mumbai prison for Nirav Modi, says home department official
Authorities at the Arthur Road jail here have kept 'barrack no. 12' ready if fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi is extradited from the UK in connection with the $2 billion PNB fraud and money laundering case, a Home department official said on Tuesday
New evidence against Nirav Modi in UK court hours before fugitive diamantaire appears for hearing in bail plea
The 48-year-old diamond merchant, Nirav Modi, was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch