economic offences

PNB scam: Nirav Modi seeks political asylum in United Kingdom, reports Financial Times

Modi has sought protection from ‘political persecution’, the newspaper quoted Indian and British officials as saying.

Businessman Nirav Modi has sought political asylum in the United Kingdom, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Modi and his associates are accused of cheating the Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore.

The report, which quoted Indian and British officials, said Modi had sought protection from “political persecution”. Modi could not be reached for comment while Britain’s Home Office told Reuters that it does not comment on individual cases.

“There are always a number of complicated cases that add a little tension and spice to our relationship with India,” a senior official from UK Foreign Office told the Financial Times. “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.”

The Ministry of External Affairs said the Indian government was waiting for law agencies to contact it before pushing for Modi’s extradition. Last month, the government urged the United Kingdom to expedite the extradition process of Indian fugitives and economic offenders such as businessmen Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, and suspected cricket bookie Sanjiv Kapur.

The scam

On February 14, the Punjab National Bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it had detected “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions” worth Rs 11,380 crore at its Brady House branch in South Mumbai. The bank later revised the figure to Rs 12,703 crore and later to around Rs 13,645 crore. Nirav Modi and his family flew out of India during the first week of January.

A few officials of the public sector bank had allegedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to Modi’s companies. Some of them have been arrested and are under investigation.

On May 24, the Enforcement Directorate filed its first chargesheet against the fugitive businessman and his associates in the case. The 12,000-page charge sheet was filed in a special court in Mumbai under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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