New Delhi: To avoid returning to India, where he is wanted for an 11,000-crore bank scam, Nirav Modi is attempting to hire a lawyer who can help him get political asylum in the UK. Nirav Modi, who flew out of India on January 1, days before the CBI registered a case against him, is believed to be in New York.
The billionaire designer, who is accused of defrauding the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), has approached at least two firms in the United Kingdom, sources have told NDTV.
One of them is Boutique Law, a firm linked to Indian-origin lawyer Anand Doobay who specialises in criminal and regulatory matters including fraud, extradition and money laundering. The other company whose services Nirav Modi is learnt to have sought is Mishcon De Reya. Queries sent by NDTV to both these firms went unanswered.
Anand Doobay is among the lawyers that is part of the panel that works with another wanted businessman Vijjay Mallya, who is already a resident in the UK.
Legal experts say the UK is a preferred destination for seeking asylum because of its fair legal system which gives considerable weightage to human rights.
Nirav Modi has apparently sought asylum on the grounds that he faces political persecution in India. India has a poor record of extradition cases filed in courts in the UK -- failing most recently in cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla and Navy war room-accused Ravi Shankaran's cases.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) when contacted by NDTV said it had no information of Nirav Modi's latest move. "We have a diffusion notice out with the Interpol which means that if he moves internationally, they will inform us,'' said a CBI spokesperson.
Nirav Modi left India in early January before the CBI started investigating allegations that he had secured thousands of crores in loans he never paid back using fake guarantees supplied by PNB officials.
Sources say the billionaire went from India to the UAE, then to Hong Kong and London. He left the UK a couple of months ago and is now believed to be in New York. He is reportedly still travelling on his Indian passport that was cancelled by the government in February.