Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller at the heart of a more than $2 billion fraud case, has fled to the UK, where he is claiming political asylum, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing Indian and British officials. Britain's Home Office said it does not provide information on individual cases. Nirav Modi could not be contacted by Reuters for comment on the FT report.
- Nirav Modi in London over what he claims is "political persecution"
- He is one of the accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case
- His uncle Mehul Choksi is also accused of fraud
On May 1, NDTV had reported that Nirav Modi was attempting to hire a lawyer who could help him get political asylum in the UK. The billionaire designer had approached at least two firms in the United Kingdom, sources told NDTV.
Punjab National Bank said earlier in 2018 that two jewellery groups headed by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it of about $2.2 billion by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.
Nirav Modi is in London trying to claim asylum from what he calls "political persecution", the FT reported.
Ministry of external affairs told the FT the Indian government was waiting for the law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened. The ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.
India is already seeking the extradition of Vijay Mallya, a liquor and aviation tycoon, over unpaid loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman and co-owner of the Formula One Force India team moved to Britain in March last year.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed charges against more than 25 people in May including Mr Modi, Mr Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, two of the bank's executive directors and three companies belonging to Nirav Modi.
Mr Modi and Mr Choksi have denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, senior executives at the bank were accused by the CBI, in a charge sheet filed in court, of misleading the state-run bank in late 2016 over the lender's handling of the financial messaging system and credit guarantees that were at the centre of the fraud.
© Thomson Reuters 2018