Nirav Modi remand to custody in UK prison until July 25
London, June 27 (PTI): Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, wanted in India in connection with the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, was on Thursday further remanded to judicial custody until July 25.
Judge Jonathan Radway presided over the short remand hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court via videolink from Wandsworth prison and re-confirmed July 29 as the date for the next case management hearing in the 48-year-old diamond merchant’s extradition proceedings sought in the PNB fraud case.
The legal team for Modi, led by barrister Jessica Jones, brought to the judge’s attention an issue related to the nearly 5,000-page set of documentation submitted by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Indian government.
They sought the court’s intervention in sanctioning easier access of the paperwork for Modi to be able to read through and give suitable instructions, including a request for the documents to be uploaded onto an internet-free laptop.
The judge, however, said the court can only ask for proper “access” but was unable to give further instructions. Under the UK law, Modi is expected to be produced before the court every four weeks, which now falls on July 25.
The Indian side 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.
Modi, who has been lodged at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his arrest in March in connection with the nearly USD 2 billion PNB fraud and money laundering case, appeared for the first time since his bail appeal was rejected by the UK High Court earlier this month, his fourth attempt at bail.
In her judgment handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Justice Ingrid Simler concluded there were substantial grounds to believe that Modi would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to abscond.
The applicant has access to considerable financial resources, supported by an increased (bail bond security) offer of 2 million pounds, the judge noted.
The High Court judge stressed that while it was not for her to take a “definitive view” on the evidence, she had proceeded on the basis that the government of India has acted in good faith in what is undoubtedly a serious case and a sophisticated international conspiracy to defraud, together with money laundering.
Modi, who has remained in judicial custody since his arrest in March, had the automatic right to file an application in the higher court and did not require permission to appeal.