Nirav Modi’s Extradition

Nirav Modi’s Extradition

A British court on Thursday cleared the decks for fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s extradition to India, accepting “prima facie’ that he had defrauded Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs. 6,498 crores, laundered the proceeds, and interfered with witnesses and evidence.

The UK court clearing Modi’s extradition praised the evidence the CBI and the ED submitted before it. The court dismissed Modi’s claims that he would not get a fair trial at home as the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate provided detailed evidence against the billionaire diamond merchant.

Forwarding the case to U K home secretary Priti Patel for the formality of signing the extradition order, district judge Sam Goozee of the West-minister magistrates’ court said doing so would neither be oppressive nor a breach of 49-year-old Nirav’s human rights.

Patel must put her seal on the extradition within two months, failing which Nirav can apply to be discharged. During this time, he may make representations as to why he should not be extradited. If she goes ahead and orders his extradition, then he will have 14 days to apply for permission to appeal in the UK high court.

Backgrounder of Nirav Modi:

Nirav Deepak Modi is an Indian business person, charged by Interpol and the Government of India for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, and dishonesty including the delivery of property, corruption, money laundering, fraud, embezzlement, and breach of contract in August 2018.

The Case:

On January 29, CBI booked Nirav Modi his wife Ami Modi, brother Nishal Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi in an alleged Rs 280-crore cheating case acting on the first Punjab National Bank (PNB) complaint.

Modi fled India in January 2018 after siphoning off around ₹6,498 crores. He allegedly obtained the amount through fraudulent Letters of Undertaking in the name of several of his companies.

“…CBI submitted voluminous oral and documentary evidence to substantiate the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal misconduct by public servants, destruction of evidence, and criminal intimidation of evidence,” CBI spokesman R C Joshi said in a statement on Thursday.

He added the judgment is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the law after commission of large value frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions. “The judgment also vindicates the painstaking investigation by CBI, especially since Nirav Modi had raised various issues with regard to the admissibility of evidence, the fairness of the investigation, trial, prison conditions, availability of health facilities in India and extraneous consideration, with a view to divert attention from his own acts.”

Early Life:

Nirav Modi was born on 27 February 1971, in Palanpur, Gujarat, and grew up in Antwerp, Belgium. His family has been in the diamond business for several generations. When he was 19, he and his father Deepak Modi moved to Mumbai to work in his uncle’s business, Mehul Choksi, the head of Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company with 4,000 stores in India.

Modi attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania but eventually dropped out. While studying, he met his future wife, Ami, the daughter of a diamond businessman Amukuraj Choksey.

Nirav Modi is married to Ami Modi, they have three children (two daughters and one son). They met when both were students at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, although Modi himself dropped out after a year to return to the diamond business.

Ami is an US citizen by birth. In spite of having been a billionaire family earlier, they have attempted to raise children conservatively, and they only use Gujarati in their home. She ran the “Nirav Modi Scholarship for Excellence”, which supported 250 students every year. After leaving India, they have been living in a JW Marriott Essex House suite in New York City.

Following Is the Chronology of The Case and Its Origin:

  • January 29, 2018: Punjab National Bank (PNB) files police complaint against Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other accusing fraud to the tune of Rs. 281 crores.
  • February 5, 2018: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launches an investigation in to the alleged scam.
  • February 16, 2018: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) seizes a cumulative Rs. 5,674 crore worth of diamonds, gold and jewellery from Nirav Modi’s home and offices.
  • February 17, 2018: Government suspends passport of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi for four weeks in connection with the PNB fraud.
  • February 21, 2018: CBI arrests the CFO of Nirav Modi’s firm and two other senior executives of his firm. It also seals his farmhouse in Alibaug.
  • February 22, 2018: The ED seizes nine luxury cars belonging to Nirav Modi and his firms.
  • February 27, 2018: A magistrates’ court issues a bailable arrest warrant against diomond trader N June 2, 2018: The Interpol issues Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi for money laundering.
  • June 25, 2018: The ED moves a special court in Mumbai seeking Nirav Modis extradition.
  • August 3, 2018: The Indian Government sends a request for the extradition of Nirav Modi to the UK authorities.
  • August 20, 2018: The CBI officials request Interpol Manchester to detain Nirav Modi after the latter informs about his presence in London to Indian authorities.
  • December 27, 2018: The UK informs that Nirav Modi is living in the country.
  • March 9, 2019: British newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ confronts Nirav Modi on London’s street and confirms his presence in the country.
  • March 9, 2019: The ED says the government of the UK has sent an extradition request of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi to a UK court for further proceedings.
  • March 18, 2019: Westminster court in London issues arrest warrant against fugitive Nirav Modi after the Indian government request was forwarded to the court by the UK home office.
  • March 20, 2019: Nirav Modi arrested in London and produced in Westminster court, which denies him bail.
  • March 20, 2019: Nirav Modi sent to Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) Wandsworth till march 29.
  • March 29, 2019: A Westminster magistrates’ court in London rejects Nirav Modi’s second bail application, saying there are ‘substantial grounds” to believe that he will fail to surrender. The judge fixes April 26 as the next date of hearing when he will appear via video link from jail.
  • May 8, 2019: Nirav Modi denied bail for a third time, to remain in UK jail.
  • June 12, 2019: UK court rejects Nirav Modi’s bail for fourth time over fears he would abscond.
  • August 22, 2019: Nirav Modi’s remand extended till September 19, UK extradition trial expected in May 2020.
  • November 6, 2019: UK court rejects Nirav Modi’s new bail application.
  • May11, 2020: Nirav Modi’s five-day extradition trial in PNB fraud case begins in UK.
  • May 13, 2020: Indian Government submits more proof against Nirav Modi in money laundering case.
  • September 7, 2020: UK court given fresh video tour of Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail.
  • December 1, 2020: Nirav Modi’s remand extended, final hearing in 2021.
  • January 8, 2021: UK court decides to pronounce judgment in Nirav Modi’s extradition case on February 25.
  • February 25, 2021: The UK court on Thursday cleared diamantaire Nirav Modi’s extradition to India as it found him guilty of fraud and money laundering in the Punjab National Bank.
        

The UK court, praised the evidence the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) presented before it while dismissing claims that he would not get a fair trial.

The evidence was submitted in form of over 40,000 documents to prove the conspiracy between Modi, his dummy firms, and Punjab National Bank officials in connection with the fraud and money laundering case.

Here Is Summary of The Case and Future Action:

  • UK court rules Nirav Modi can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering.
  • The court said Modi has a case to answer and added he and his brother, Nehal Modi, and others, defrauded the public sector bank, laundered the money taken from it, and conspired to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses.
  • Patel has two months to decide whether to order the extradition.
  • Modi can approach the UK high court to appeal against his extradition, though such an appeal would not be heard until after Patel’s decision.
  • The government plans to liaise with the UK authorities for Modi’s early extradition.
  • The court also said Modi’s extradition is compatible with the Convention Rights within the meaning of the Human Rights Act 1998.
  • The court rejected Modi’s lawyers’ argument and the testimony of experts, including retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, that he would not get a fair trial in India and that he was being targeted due to political reasons.
  • Describing Katju’s testimony as not reliable, the court said it had the “hallmarks of an outspoken critic with his own personal agenda”.
  • The court said that the conditions at Barrack Number 12 in Arthur Road Jail in Maharashtra, where Modi will be held, “are far less restrictive and far more spacious than the current regime he is being held in within the prison estate in our own jurisdiction”.
  • It also rejected Modi’s submission that extraditing him in his current mental health would be unjust and oppressive.
  • The judgment said that “Indian authorities have the capacity to cope properly with Nirav Modi’s mental health and suicidal risk, bolstered by Nirav Modi being able to access private treatments from clinicians”