Government says PNB fraud accused Nirav Modi is in UK; CBI asks Interpol for red corner notice
Nirav Modi left India in January for an unknown location after being accused of being at the centre of the fraud involving the country’s second largest public lender.
The United Kingdom has confirmed that fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi is in the country, senior home ministry officials said on Monday, even as the CBI sent a request to Interpol for a “Red Corner Notice” seeking the billionaire’s detention. A Red Corner Notice, also known as the Red notice, allows the arrest of a person wanted by a judicial jurisdiction or an international tribunal with a view to his/her extradition.
The confirmation on the whereabouts of Modi came during a meeting between minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju and UK minister Baroness Williams in New Delhi on Monday.
Nirav Modi is wanted by Indian investigative agencies in connection with a ₹13,000-crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank, officials said on condition of anonymity.
Indian officials in London said a letter rogatory has been sent to British authorities by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, seeking investigation and information on fugitive businessman Nirav Modi, who arrived in the UK before his Indian passport was revoked in February.
A formal response to the letter is awaited. New Delhi has not yet requested his extradition.
Home Office sources said no application for asylum has been submitted by Modi, who has family in the UK, but an expert legal team is said to be working on submitting one.
Williams assured Rijiju of Britain’s full cooperation in India’s efforts for the extradition of individuals such as Modi and beleaguered liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is also wanted in connection with bank fraud charges.
“I had a very useful meeting with UK minister Baroness Williams. We discussed about India-UK joint efforts to deal with terrorism and extremism. We also agreed to cooperate in the matters of extradition and sharing of information,” Rijiju told reporters after the meeting.
Modi left India in January for an unknown location after being accused of being at the centre of the fraud involving the country’s second largest public lender. The 47-year-old and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi, who is also a diamond trader, allegedly diverted large sums of loan money to illegally invest in foreign-based firms.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had unsuccessfully approached the Interpol in March for an international arrest warrant for Nirav.
On Monday, a CBI spokesperson familiar with the matter said, “The agency has written to the Interpol to issue the notice, which would mean that the member countries of Interpol can arrest and extradite Nirav Modi and Choksi. The issuance of Red notice is under process.”
The ED is also in touch with the international agency, two sources said on condition of anonymity. Both agencies have already filed charge sheets in the PNB fraud case. Based on its charge sheet against Modi, the ED is expected to move court soon to seek permission for confiscating the diamantaire’s assets and declare him a fugitive under provisions of the newly promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.
Earlier reports had said there was speculation of Modi being in Hong Kong, the US and the UK.
(With inputs from Prasun Sonwalkar in London and agencies)