Nirav Modi to be lodged in barrack 12 of Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, India tells UK court

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Diamantaire Nirav Modi would be lodged in barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, Maharashtra after his extradition, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian investigative agencies told the London court on Monday.

Nirav Modi, who is fighting extradition to India on charges over the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, appeared via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in London on the first day of his five-day extradition trial.

In a normally full courtroom, only a handful of legal representative and journalists, maintaining social distancing measures, were present while others joined via digital platforms.

The 49-year-old jeweller is currently lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March 2019.

India Today TV has learnt that barrack number 12 in Arthur Road Jail has been prepared as India awaits its most high profile prisoner, Nirav Modi.

On the first day of 5-days extradition hearing, the CPS — representing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) — stated before the court that Nirav Modi, in conspiracy with the officials of PNB, defrauded thousands of crores.

CPS also alleged that huge amount of money was transferred in the accounts of PNB bank official Gokulnath Shetty as bribe.

The CPS made a series of allegations based on the evidence provided by the CBI and the ED. It told the Westminster Magistrates Court that 13 companies in the UAE and six in Hong Kong which were being controlled by Nirav Modi, for the purpose of round tripping the money, have been uncovered during investigation.

Helen Malcolm, representing the CPS, also alleged before the court that Nirav Modi threatened to kill a witness if he gave any statement against him.

“There is really nothing very complicated about this case. It covers three aspects – the fraud, then laundering of that fraud money and the rotation of goods around the Modi empire,” she said.

On the pretext of buying material, like pearls for example, at a cheaper rate, Nirav Modi borrowed from the local banks of the country, she said. Bank guarantees required to secure the loans in the form of MOU’s were signed off by corrupt bank officers of Punjab National Bank and the money secured in this manner was used to pay an earlier loan instead of making purchases of raw material, she said.

“Each borrowing was paid off by later greater borrowing,” Barrister Malcolm said. In this manner, Nirav Modi built his empire in a “Ponzi scheme of borrowing,” she added.

Nirav Modi’s lawyer Claire Montgomery will present the defence on behalf of Nirav Modi on the second day of extradition hearing.

The jeweller was arrested on March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges of fraud and money laundering brought by the Indian government. Between Westminster Magistrates Court and the High Court of UK, Nirav Modi has been denied bail five times.

(With inputs from Loveena Tondon in London)

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About the author: Sohom Das
Founder of Tuccho.

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