The UK government has cleared the extradition of jeweller Nirav Modi to India.
Home secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of the diamond merchant who is accused of bank fraud in India.
Modi is being investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for money laundering, said to be in the region of $2 billion and involving loans from Punjab National Bank (PNB).
On February 25, Westminister Magistrates’ Court said there was prima facie evidence against Modi, and that there was no evidence that the jeweller would not get justice if he was extradited, paving way for his extradition.
The court said it was satisfied there was enough evidence against Modi for his conviction.
“I do not accept that Nirav Modi was involved in legitimate business. I find no genuine transactions and believe there is a process of dishonesty,” said Westminster Magistrates’ Court judge Samuel Goozee. The judge said there were links between Modi and conspirators, including PNB officials.
The judge also dismissed Modi’s argument that he would not get justice in India due to media scrutiny and political pressure. The judge said there was no reason to believe that politicians in India were trying to influence the trial.
“No reason to believe that Indian judiciary is partial,” the judge said.
Modi faces two sets of criminal proceedings, with the CBI case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of “Letters of Understanding” (LOUs or loan agreements), and the ED case relating to 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 denies wrongdoing. He 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. The charges against him centre around his firms Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds making fraudulent use of a credit facility offered by PNB or LoUs.