Fugitive Businessman Nirav Modi's Bail Rejected By London Court

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi denied bail by UK court in the $1-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case

Fugitive Businessman Nirav Modi's Bail Rejected By London Court

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi denied bail by UK court

Fugitive businessman Nirav Modi has been denied bail by a UK court for a third time, in a hearing that was presided over by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.

Dressed in a beige and black sweater and appearing via video-link from his Wandsworth prison, Modi did not say anything except to confirm his name.

At the end of the brief hearing, the Chief Magistrate said, "Mr Modi, you will be back for another short hearing via videolink on May 24, with a full hearing in the case planned for May 30 when you will be produced in person".

Modi's legal team was then asked if they had any further documents to present to the court, which they did not, meaning a new bail petition was not filed. Under British law, a new petition could only have been filed if the ground for the plea were substantially different

The next hearing is now likely to be a procedural one, to fulfill provisions within local law, before a full case management hearing starts on May 30.

The 48-year-old diamond merchant was earlier refused bail on March 29 on grounds there was "substantial risk he would fail to surrender".

At that time, the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of Indian authorities, pointed to Nirav Modi's attempt to purchase citizenship in Vanuatu as grounds he could not be relied on to appear in court when called upon.

"This is a case of substantial fraud, with loss to a bank in India of between USD 1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case," the judge had noted in her ruling.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs website, India has no extradition treaty in force with the Pacific island nation. However, "in the absence of a treaty, it is a matter for the foreign country to consider, in accordance with its domestic laws and procedures, whether the country can agree to India's extradition request on the basis of an assurance of reciprocity."

Nirav Modi is fighting extradition from the UK to India in the matter of the $1-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case. He is being held at Wandsworth prison in London, where he has been since his arrest in March.

He is understood to be in the UK on an Investor Visa from 2015; it was granted at a time the so-called "golden visa" route was relatively easier for super-rich individuals to acquire residency rights in the UK based on a minimum of 2-million pound investment.

He was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on March 19 and sent to jail after his first bail appeal was denied. During his first court appearance, it emerged the diamantaire accused of defrauding PNB via fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) had been in possession of multiple passports, since revoked by the Indian authorities.

With input from PTI

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