Nirav Modi, the diamond businessman from Gujarat who fled India after allegedly cheating a government bank of over Rs 11,000 crore, is a step closer to being extradited to India from the UK.
Mr Modi, 51, had appealed against being sent back to India to face trial in the massive fraud case linked to Punjab National Bank, or PNB.
He lost the appeal in the London High Court today. Lord Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith and Justice Robert Jay, who heard the appeal earlier this year, delivered the verdict that allowed the fugitive businessman’s extradition to India.
“…We are far from satisfied that Mr Modi’s mental condition and the risk of suicide are such that it would be either unjust or oppressive to extradite him,” the court said, according to news agency PTI.
The process to bring Mr Modi from London to Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail still has some way to go. His uncle, Mehul Choksi, who has taken up citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, is also accused of cheating PNB and wanted by Indian agencies.
Mr Modi can approach Britain’s Supreme Court against the High Court’s order within 14 days. But there’s a catch – he can appeal in the Supreme Court only if the high court agrees that his case involves a point of law of general public importance.
If this option is spent, Mr Modi is free to approach the European Court of Human Rights.
His legal team hasn’t said what they plan to do next after today’s setback.
In the meantime, the fugitive businessman will remain at the London jail where he was first kept after he was arrested in March 2019.
Mr Modi is wanted by both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. The fugitive and the firms he controlled allegedly leveraged the loopholes in the banking system by seeking letters of undertaking, or LoU, and raising credit from foreign banks to pay its merchants.
An LoU is a bank guarantee issued for overseas import payments. For years, Mr Modi and his three firms had been allegedly taking LoUs from PNB. These bank guarantees allegedly helped Mr Modi raise short-term loans from foreign branches of Indian banks to pay to suppliers of raw material. The money was then transferred through a maze of sorts.