NDTV Exclusive: Ex-Interpol Chief, Lalit Modi's 'Brother', Rubbishes India's Attempts to Bring Him to Justice


Former Interpol chief Ronald K Noble with Lalit Modi (This photo was posted by Lalit Modi on his Instagram page)

New Delhi:  On 25 October 2014, Lalit Modi posted a picture on his Instagram account from the VIP box at a Barcelona-Real Madrid football game, one of the most elite sporting events in the world.

In the picture, Mr Modi has his arm around a smiling man. "With my brother Ron Noble," he captioned it.

Except, Ronald K Noble was not just another celebrity seen with the former IPL boss - at the time the picture was taken, he was the Secretary General of Interpol, the UN-mandated agency meant to coordinate efforts against transnational crime.

Mr Noble retired the next month, on 7 November, after three terms in office.

When NDTV contacted Mr Noble, he admitted in an email to us that he was with Mr Modi at the game and that he knew him since 2013. But he said he was not aware of Mr Modi's legal troubles and Interpol never received any request from India for help in bringing him to justice for alleged corruption linked to the multi-billion dollar cricket league.

He strongly rebutted claims that India had made attempts to contact Interpol to bring Mr Modi to justice. ''At no point prior to or since that first meeting (with Modi in 2013) did Interpol receive a request from India to assist it in any alleged investigation of Mr. Lalit Modi,' he said in his reply.

''Nor did Interpol ever receive a request from India to publish a Blue Notice or any other Notice for Mr. Lalit Modi," he went on.

Importantly, Mr Noble claimed that India had never submitted any information concerning Lalit Modi to the agency during his tenure. ''Lalit Modi has never been a person of interest about whom Interpol has any info in its database,'' he said. Mr Noble was Secretary General of Interpol from 2000 to 2014.

Mr Noble's email, the first detailed response from Interpol on the Lalit Modi case, reaffirms that India did not escalate the investigation against the former IPL chief, who left the country in 2010, and remains outside the reach of Indian investigators despite multiple notices.

Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha confirmed that the previous UPA government hadn't contacted Interpol. "The Enforcement Directorate would have liked to complete its investigation; that is why it didn't approach Interpol," he told NDTV.

The NDA government recently clarified that they had issued a "Light Blue Notice," which means legal action when Mr Modi is on Indian soil.

Last week, after news broke of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj facilitating Lalit Modi's travel in Europe, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: "There is confusion about the shades of blue. There is a procedure of a blue-corner notice issued by the Interpol. There is a procedure of a light blue corner notice issued by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (of India) at the request of the Enforcement Directorate. That notice was issued in 2010 and continues to be valid even today."

Lalit Modi's friendship with Mr Noble exposes the formidable network of friends and associates cultivated by the IPL founder, who may directly or indirectly have ensured he remains outside the grasp of the law.

The ruling BJP's Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje, the Rajasthan chief minister, have both been singed by allegations that they went out of their way to assist Lalit Modi.

Lalit Modi has repeatedly produced a letter dated October 2013 from Interpol, which says they have nothing on him in their databases. That happens to be the year when Mr Noble claims he became acquainted with Modi.

Mr Noble claims that in the absence of an official complaint from India against Lalit Modi, there is no conflict of interest in his fraternising with him. But should the chief of an international policing agency accept the hospitality of an individual facing corruption cases? And what does it say about the prospects, should India ever approach Interpol, of ensuring a fair hearing?

"Lalit Modi is a fugitive. The Interpol chief's proximity to him is surprising," said Sanjay Jha.  

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