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Hong Kong Can Take Call on India’s Request to Arrest Fugitive Jeweler, Says China

Nirav Modi

Hong Kong can take a call on India’s request to arrest fugitive jeweler Nirav Modi, accused in the Rs 13,000 crore scam at India’s Punjab National Bank (PNB), based on its local laws and mutual judicial assistance agreements, China said on April 9.

“According to the one country two system and basic laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the assistance and authorization of the central government, the Hong Kong SAR can make a proper arrangement on judicial mutual assistance with other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, PTI reported. “If India has made a relevant request to the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region), we leave the matter to the Hong Kong SAR and hope that it will follow the basic laws and relevant judicial system agreement with India to deal with the relevant issue,” Shuang said.

India had earlier asked authorities in Hong Kong to arrest Modi. “The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China,” Indian Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told the parliament on April 5. India submitted the request for Modi’s arrest to Hong Kong on March 23, Singh said.

Meanwhile, non-bailable warrants were issued against Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi by a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a source within the investigative agency told Reuters. A court in Mumbai approved CBI’s application for the non-bailable warrant, the report dated April 8 said.

The CBI has also questioned some officials at overseas branches of Indian banks, who issued loans to companies run by Modi, on basis of the Letters of Undertakings fraudulently issued by PNB employees. Among them is an officer dealing with foreign exchange at Allahabad Bank’s Hong Kong branch. The bank has denied any wrongdoing, the Reuters report said.

The Punjab National Bank has also hired lawyers to represent it in the bankruptcy proceedings of Modi’s United States-based company, Firestar Diamond. “We have just engaged lawyers to represent our bank in the U.S. bankruptcy petition as part of recovery process. If money has gone from our system and parked in that company, our bank’s views should be heard before deciding about insolvency petition,” PNB managing director Sunil Mehta told PTI.

The Supreme Court of India will hear a petition filed by a lawyer seeking SIT investigation into the scam, which has been dubbed as India’s largest ever banking fraud, on April 9. Twenty arrests have been made so far.

Both Modi and Choksi, whose passports have been revoked, have denied allegations against them. Choksi had written a letter to the CBI, accusing it of investigating the case with a “predetermined mind” and saying it is impossible for him to return to India with his passport revoked.