A UK magistrates’ court on Thursday ordered that fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi can be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an estimated $2 billion.
The judge also stated that Nirav Modi had conspired to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses and has a case to answer for in India.
“I am satisfied that Nirav Modi’s extradition to India is in compliance per human rights,” said District Judge Samuel Goozee, adding that he had the right to appeal the order.
While today’s order takes Nirav Modi a step closer to extradition, it may take months yet to wade through appeals, as it has been seen in the case of another high-profile accused, liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
Nirav is the subject of two sets of criminal proceedings, with CBI case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of letters of undertaking (LoUs) or loan agreements, and the ED case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
He also faces two additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or “criminal intimidation to cause death”, which were added to the CBI case.
It is the UK cabinet minister who is authorised to order an extradition under the India-UK Extradition Treaty and has two months within which to make that decision.
The judge dismissed Nirav Modi’s “mental health concerns” and said they are not unusual in a man in his circumstances.
Nirav Modi was arrested on an extradition warrant on March 19, 2019, and has appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison for a series of court hearings in the extradition case. His multiple attempts at seeking bail have been repeatedly turned down, both at the magistrates’ and high court level, as he was deemed a flight risk, NDTV reported.
It may be stated that Nirav Modi wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering in the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, lost his legal battle against extradition on all grounds as District Judge Samuel Goozee also concluded that there are no human rights concerns that his medical needs would not be addressed as per several Indian government assurances.