A court in London on Friday denied bail to fugitive diamond businessman Nirav Modi for the third time, ANI reported. Modi will remain in jail till May 24, the next date of hearing, according to News18.
“Mr Modi, you will be back for another short hearing via video link on May 24, with a full hearing in the case planned for May 30 when you will be produced in person,” Judge Emma Arbuthnot said, according to PTI. She asked Modi’s barrister Jessica Jones if there were any other matters to be considered, and received a negative reply.
Modi was arrested in London on March 19 for allegedly duping India’s Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,000 crore. He was sent to custody at HM Prison Wandsworth till March 29 after the Westminster court had rejected his bail plea. Modi’s arrest had come days after an arrest warrant was issued by authorities in London.
On March 29, the Westminster Magistrates Court rejected the bail plea for a second time after the Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of Indian authorities, opposed the bail plea and submitted a new file with additional evidence against Modi. The prosecution had alleged that Modi made death threats to witnesses and attempted to destroy evidence.
The court had said that there were substantial grounds to believe Modi will fail to surrender, and that his attempt to try and seek citizenship of Vanuatu showed he was trying to move away from India at an important time.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on Friday said luxury cars belonging to Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, were auctioned for Rs 3.29 crore, PTI reported. The agency had attached the vehicles under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The Enforcement Directorate had in March obtained the permission of a special court in Mumbai to auction 13 cars belonging to Modi and Choksi as part of its inquiry into the bank loan fraud.
“Out of these 13 vehicles, twelve [10 belonging to Modi group and two of Choksi group] were successfully bidded for a total amount of Rs 3,28,94,293,” the agency said in a statement. In March, the Income Tax department had auctioned several art works owned by Modi for Rs 59.37 crore.
Modi, who fled India in January 2018, is now living at an apartment in London’s West End, British newspaper The Telegraph had reported in March. The daily had said Modi lives on half a floor of the Centre Point Tower Block in an apartment whose rent is likely to be around £17,000 per month (Rs 15.5 lakh), and which costs around Rs 73 crore.
On March 9, the Ministry of External Affairs said it had requested Modi’s extradition, but had not received any response from UK authorities. India has said both extradition requests, by the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation, are being “considered” by the UK government.