The Indian government has sent a formal request to its High Commission in London, to be forwarded to the United Kingdom government, to extradite fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who is accused in a multi-million dollar scam in the country.
The extradition request was received by the Ministry of External Affairs from the Ministry of Home Affairs, and has been sent by a special diplomatic bag to the High Commission of India, London, for onward transmission to the UK authorities, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh informed the Rajya Sabha on Aug. 2.
The ministry had revoked the passport of Modi on Feb. 16 this year, Singh said, adding that the information was conveyed to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for onward transmission to the Interpol. The international agency had then issued two Red Corner Notices against the billionaire businessman on June 29.
Modi is accused in India, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi, wife Ami Modi, who is a U.S. citizen, and his brother Nishal Modi, a Belgian citizen, and close associate Subhash Parab over the $2.2 billion fraud case involving the Punjab National Bank (PNB). He left India in January this year, shortly before the news of the scam broke out.
Choksi, on the other hand, took up the citizenship of Antigua after fleeing India. The Antiguan government said last week that it is ready to cooperate with India and will cancel his passport to protect the country’s integrity and its relationship with India. Choksi would not have been granted an Antiguan passport if the charges against him were known to them, Foreign Minister Chet Greene had said. Mehul had said that he took up Antiguan citizenship as it allowed him easy access to 132 countries, which would be in the interest of his business.
The PNB fraud was allegedly carried out during 2011-17 by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal Letters of Undertaking issued by employees at PNB’s Mumbai branch.
A total of 21 people were named in the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a special court in Mumbai on May 14.
Modi would be the 29th fugitive in the United Kingdom whose extradition has been requested by India since 2002, the Deccan Herald reported. Of these, only one fugitive — Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel — has been extradited by the United Kingdom to India. Patel was accused in a riots case in Gujarat, when 23 people of a community were burnt alive on March 1, 2002 in Ode village, and is currently in jail in the state’s Anand district while his trial is going on.
The UK government has rejected India’s request to extradite nine of these fugitives. The UK courts also declined to issue arrest warrants against three other fugitives wanted by India, the report added. The cases of 15 other fugitives, including liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, for whom India had submitted extradition request, are still pending.
Among those whose extradition has been sought by India from Britain are former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi; alleged bookie Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, who is wanted in India for his role in match fixing during South Africa’s tour in 2000; Rajesh Kapoor, accused of kidnapping his brother Deepak Kapoor’s daughter; Tiger Hanif, who is wanted in connection with two bomb attacks in Gujarat in 1993; Atul Singh; Raj Kumar Patel; Jatiender Kumar Angurala and Asha Rani Angurala.
The Westminster Court last year rejected India’s extradition plea in cases of Chawla, and the Angurala couple.