Nirav Modi Denied Bail, Judge Says Attempt Made To Destroy Evidence

Nirav Modi was arrested on March 20 and has been in Her Majesty's Prison Wandsworth, which is one of the largest prisons in western Europe.

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London: 

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi will not get bail, said the High Court in the UK, where he is currently living. Nirav Modi was arrested on March 20 and has been in Her Majesty's Prison Wandsworth, one of the largest prisons in Western Europe. The 48-year-old, wanted in India in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, had asked for a review of a lower court order that denied him bail.

He will now need permission from a lower court to re-apply for bail at the magistrate's court.

Nirav Modi had argued that he had arrived in the UK in January 2018, before he was accused of any crime. Contesting India's extradition request, he said he was in Britain lawfully, had a job and paid his taxes.

During the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice, Justice Ingrid Simler observed that there was "compelling evidence" that there have been efforts to "interfere with witness statements" and destruction of evidence.

"I am satisfied that there is evidence of destruction of evidence. They contained data in discs which would have been of interest to authorities... It seems he has means to access funds... I feel that the applicant would fail to surrender," she said.

The judge also said it was "difficult" for her to see why the UK should be a safe haven for him to escape extradition. "There are still places in the world that one can move to which be even safe havens to escape extradition," she said.

Nirav Modi has been denied bail thrice before at the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. There too, the judge had ruled there was "substantial risk" that he would fail to surrender and the bail security offered was insufficient.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank scam that involved fake guarantees in the name of the state-run lender to secure loans overseas. Both left India in January 2018 before the CBI started investigating the PNB scam.

Mehul Choksi is now residing in Antigua and holds its citizenship. He has cited health reasons for not returning to India.

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