Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi has been further remanded in custody on Tuesday by a court in London, reported PTI. The court was hearing India’s extradition request for Modi, who is facing a trial in London for allegedly duping Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,000 crore.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot extended his custody for 28 days till December 29. Modi followed the court proceedings virtually from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London.
The final proceedings in the extradition case are scheduled over two days – January 7 and January 8. District Judge Samuel Goozee is likely to hear the closing arguments from the two sides before he passes a judgement a few weeks later.
During the last hearing, on November 3, Goozee heard the arguments for and against the admission of certain witness statements, provided by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. The judge had then ruled that the evidence for a prima facie fraud and money laundering case against Modi was broadly admissible.
The Crown Prosecution Services, representing Indian agencies, had taken up the proof, including witness statements under Section 161 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure. This, the court said, met the required threshold for the UK court to establish whether Modi has a case before the Indian judicial system.
CPS barrister Helen Malcolm said the argument that Modi’s case was distinguishable from liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s was “frankly nonsense”. Clare Montgomery, Modi’s barrister, and the defence counsel in Mallya’s case disputed that Section 161 witness statements qualify as similar.
Mallya, who is also fighting his extradition to India, faces fraud and money laundering charges in a bank loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore resulting from the collapse of his defunct company Kingfisher Airlines. On November 2, India’s Supreme Court asked the Centre to file a status report within six weeks on the confidential legal proceedings pending in the United Kingdom on his extradition.
Modi is facing two sets of criminal proceedings. The CBI case relates to the large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of “Letters of Understanding”, while the Enforcement Directorate is investigating the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
He also faces two additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses, or criminal intimidation to cause death added to the CBI case. The jeweller has been in prison since he was arrested on March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard and his attempts at seeking bail have been repeatedly turned down.