The Centre on Thursday said it has requested the authorities in Hong Kong to surrender Indian jeweller Nirav Modi, who is accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore, ANI reported. However, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar added that Hong Kong is yet to respond to the request.

Both Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had fled abroad in January, weeks before news of the fraud first emerged in public. They have not yet returned. The CBI has issued non-bailable warrants against the two.

Last week, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told Parliament that the ministry had sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Modi by the government of the Hong Kong special administrative region.

“We are aware of the written reply submitted to Parliament which shared that Nirav Modi is in Hong Kong,” Kumar told reporters at a press conference. “We have requested Hong Kong authorities to surrender Nirav Modi.”

Kumar said New Delhi was still awaiting a response from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. “There is an agreement between India and Hong Kong about surrender of fugitive offenders. We are still awaiting a response. So far we have not received any information about Nirav Modi or about his arrest from the authorities in Hong Kong authorities.”

In February, the CBI had written to Modi asking him to come to India and cooperate with the investigation, but he had replied that he cannot return as he has a business to take care of abroad. A few officials at the public sector bank had allegedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking – essentially letters of credit telling others banks that it would meet a customer’s liabilities – to Modi’s companies. Some bank officials have been arrested and are under investigation.

‘India is against the use of chemical weapons’

The ministry spokesperson said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed “all matters of mutual interest” in a telephonic conversation on Wednesday, ANI reported. He said India wanted the controversy surrounding an alleged chemical attack in the rebel-held city of Douma in Syria comes to an evidence-based conclusion.

“India is against the use of chemical weapons anywhere, at any time, by anybody, under any circumstances,” Kumar said. “We hope that this issue is resolved in accordance with the provisions of the chemical weapons convention, so as to reach an evidence-based conclusion.”