Nirav Modi 2nd high profile fugitive to lose extradition battle

New Delhi, Feb 25 : After fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi faced a setback on Thursday after a UK court ordered his extradition in connection with the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, it became the second major order that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has managed to secure from the overseas court months after now defunct Kingfisher Airlines founder Vijay Mallya lost his appeal too.

According to CBI sources, in the Nirav Modi case which the agency registered in January 2018 the pressure was kept up in the court with all the evidence.

A source said that senior officers like then Additional Director Praveen Sinha, who is currently the acting CBI Director, visited the UK and attended court hearings on two important dates when crucial evidence was being presented.

The source informed that the Director of Prosecution of CBI had also visited the UK and had met with the Crown Prosecution Service, UK.

The source said that constant communication between the CBI and the Crown Prosecution Service officials showed in the result.

The CPS was presenting evidence before the UK judge on CBI's behalf.

Another CBI source said that this is a result of meticulous and painstaking investigation involving different governments and their agencies and the complex issues concerning the case.

The source said that Nirav Modi's firm utilized LOU's fraudulently between 2011 and 2017.

In the case of Nirav Modi, the investigating agencies were hopeful as a UK court in November 2020 ruled in favour of the Indian government by allowing the admissibility of evidence against him.

Nirav Modi is wanted in India along with his uncle Mehul Choksi, who headed the Gitanjali group, in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

Currently, Nirav Modi is lodged in a London prison after his arrest by UK police in March 2019, while his uncle Choksi has become a citizen of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

Meanwhile, the CBI and ED, which are fighting the legal battle in the United Kingdom for the extradition of Mallya, are sure about his extradition after he lost an appeal in the Supreme Court on May 14 last year.

Mallya, who is wanted in India for a Rs 9,000-crore loan defraud, had approached the UK High Court which dismissed his appeal against extradition on April 20.

Last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in an affidavit informed the Supreme Court of India that following the refusal of leave to appeal to Mallya, his extradition to India should, in principle, have been completed within 28 days.

However, the UK Home Office intimated that there is a further legal issue involved, which needs to be resolved before the extradition takes place.

The MHA said that the UK has informed it that this separate legal issue is judicial and confidential in nature.

On May 14, in a major setback, Mallya's application for leave to appeal in the UK Supreme Court was rejected as the High Court declined to entertain his appeal against his extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering in connection with the unrecovered loans to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The liquor baron has been living in the UK since he fled India on March 2, 2016.

Mallya is also the first accused in India to be booked under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

In 2019, a Mumbai court named Mallya as an offender under the Act, empowering the probe agencies to seize his properties and assets spread across the world.

In December 2018, the CBI also managed to get the extradition of alleged middleman Christian Michel James, a British national, in connection with its probe into the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).



Source: IANS