UK court extends Nirav Modi's remand till July 25

Nirav Modi
Fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi I File photo
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London/New Delhi: A UK court on Thursday extended till July 25 the remand of fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who is wanted in India in connection with the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

The 48-year-old, who fights his extradition from Britain to India has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his arrest in March.

The UK High Court on June 12 rejected Modi's bail application, his fourth attempt to get bail.

An arrest warrant was issued against him in May and then a second one in July last year, with an extradition request made to the UK authorities in August 2018.

Modi appeared via videolink from prison for a routine remand hearing before Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday.

Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant on March 19 and has been in prison since.

Under the UK law, Modi is expected to be produced before the court every four weeks, with another remand hearing expected before the July 29 case management hearing currently fixed in the court's calendar.

The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government, has until July 11 to present an opening position statement laying out the prima facie case against Modi, with the next case management hearing set for July 29 - when a timeline for extradition trial is expected to be laid out.

Swiss bank accounts attached

The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday said it has attached four Swiss bank accounts of fugitive businessman Nirav Modi and his sister Purvi with a balance of Rs 283 crore in its investigation into the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.

A senior ED official told IANS: "We have attached four Swiss bank accounts with a balance of Rs 283.16 crore."

The official said that Letters Rogatory (LR) had been sent to the authorities of foreign jurisdictions to enforce the attachment orders.

The ED action comes months after it filed a supplementary chargesheet against Nirav Modi's wife Ami Modi, a US national, for being the beneficiary of alleged purchase of two apartments at Central Park in New York using $30 million of laundered money which her husband obtained fraudulently from PNB through Letters of Undertaking and Foreign Letters of Credit.

The chargesheet was filed on February 28. It is alleged that the amount was routed through Ami's HSBC Bank accounts.

The attached apartments are part of Nirav Modi's Rs 637 crore worth of foreign properties the ED seized in October last year.

According to agency officials, the apartments were purchased in the name of The Ithaca Trust. One of the properties in Central Park South, New York, was in the name of Central Park Real Estate LLC, a Firestar Group company. In 2018, it was transferred to the Trust.

The alleged beneficiary of The Ithaca Trust is Ami Modi and her children and the settler of the said trust was Nirav Modi's sister Purvi Modi, a Belgian national.

The agency had also attached a flat worth Rs 56.97 crore on Marylebone Road in London.

According to the ED official, the property was bought in the name of the Belvedere Holdings Group Ltd which was managed by Trident Trust in Singapore and established by Monte Cristo Trust. The official said the said trust has Purvi Modi as settler and beneficiary.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under probe by both the CBI and ED. Nirav Modi is currently lodged in a London jail while Choksi is now in Antigua.

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