New Delhi: India on Thursday said it will seek the early extradition from the UK of jeweler Nirav Modi, wanted for fraud and money laundering in the ₹14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan scam.
This comes after a court in the UK ruled that Modi could be extradited to India after dismissing arguments like his mental health worsening during the pandemic and poor Indian prison conditions, news reports said.
“I am satisfied that Nirav Modi’s extradition to India is in compliance per human rights,” the reports quoted UK District Judge Samuel Goozee as saying. He however added that he had the right to appeal the order.
In New Delhi, foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said that since the Westminster Magistrate’s Court “has recommended Nirav Modi’s extradition to the UK Home Secretary, the Government of India would liaise with the UK authorities for his early extradition to India.”
Thursday’s order brings Modi a step closer to extradition but could take months before Indian authorities can bring him back given that there are many rounds of appeals that could come in the way.
“There is no evidence that if extradited Nirav Modi will not get justice,” the UK judge said, agreeing with India’s submissions, according to news reports.
He made it clear that he felt the case for the jeweller to face trial in India was strong and that Modi had clear links with “other connivers” including bank officials in faked Letters of Undertaking that facilitated huge unpaid loans.
“I do not accept that Nirav Modi was involved in legitimate business. I find no genuine transactions and believe there is a process of dishonesty,” the judge was quoted as saying.
Nirav Modi, 49, appeared via video conferencing from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the reports said.
He was arrested in 2019 from a metro station in London on an extradition warrant.