U.K Court rejects Nirav Modi’s bail plea in PNB scam case, Nirav will stay in London jail
A UK court on Friday rejected bail application of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi. The court will take up the matter for hearing on April 26. The Westminster Magistrates’ Court observed that there is substantial ground that fugitive diamond trader will fail to surrender. The court said, “Nirav Modi’s attempt to try and seek citizenship of Vanuatu shows he was trying to move away from India at an important time.” The Crown Prosecution Service told the court that the diamond merchant posed a flight risk and he has made death threats to witnesses related to PNB fraud case.
144 fraudulent LoUs were issued to Nirav Modi between January 1 and December 31, 2017. Nirav Modi called up a witness ‘Ashish Lad’ and threatened to killed him, says Toby Cadman, who is representing Crown Prosecution Service. Nirav Modi isn’t cooperating with Indian agencies & there’s risk he’ll fly out.
Modi’s defence team, led by barrister Clare Motgomery – who was also the barrister for former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case – opposed the CPS claims of Modi being a flight risk and stressed that in fact Modi sees UK as a “haven where his case will be fairly considered”. “The size and nature of these allegations is not a safe touchstone by which you can judge if he should be granted bail,” said Montgomery, who claimed a series of “underlying issues” were behind PNB withdrawing insecure lending. The defence offered to submit Modi to an electronic tag for monitoring in an attempt to secure bail for him. They also disputed the death threats allegations to witnesses by Modi. At the very start of the hearing, Judge Arbuthnot said she was getting a sense of “deja vu”, in reference to her having ordered the extradition of Mallya in December last year. “Do we know which part of India he [Modi] is being sought in,” the judge asked, to try and establish which jail Modi is likely to be held in. Cadman assured the court that the “point had been conveyed” to the Indian authorities. A three-member joint Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and (ED) team from India was present in court and handed over a new file of evidence which was review by the judge before the hearing. Modi is believed to have been living in the UK on an Investor Visa, applied for in 2015 – at a time when 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. According to official data, around 76 Indians have used this visa category to gain permanent settlement in Britain since 2009, with a peak of 16 Indian applicants in 2013 and seven last year. The UK has since tightened the criteria for the category over concerns of its misuse.
Modi was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since then.