London: Absconding jeweller and businessman Nirav Modi, who is at the centre of a money laundering case linked to the over $2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has fled to the United Kingdom, where he is claiming political asylum, according to a media report on Monday.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly cheating the PNB, the country's second-largest lender, to the tune of more than $2 billion.
The duo and others are also being investigated by other central agencies, after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by the PNB that they had allegedly cheated the national bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
Both Nirav Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them.
"Officials in India and the UK say he (Nirav Modi) is in London, where his company has one store, and is trying to claim asylum from what he said was political persecution," The Financial Times reported.
"There are always a number of complicated cases that add a little tension and spice to our relationship with India. But there is also an appreciation from both sides that we have a legal process that has to be gone through, and that we are, of course, governed by human rights legislation," a senior UK Foreign Office official was quoted as saying in the report.
In May, the CBI had filed two chargesheets in the case before a Mumbai court. The ED has also filed its chargesheet in the case involving Nirav Modi and his associates, officials in New Delhi said.
They said the about 12,000-page chargesheet, or the prosecution complaint, has been filed before a special court in Mumbai under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
India is also pushing for the return of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is on trial for the UK court to rule whether he can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore.
Updated Date: Jun 11, 2018 09:55 AM