The last-minute discovery of a glaring discrepancy in their requests to Interpol for a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Nirav Modi saved two Indian agencies from what could have been an embarrassing setback in their efforts to get the PNB scam-accused back to India, The Indian Express has learnt.
According to sources, the initial draft of the “request documents” prepared by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) listed different names — Nirav Deepak Keshavlal Modi and Nirav Keshvlal Deepak Modi.
This mismatch could have led to a further delay, if not rejection, in processing the requests, said sources. But it was spotted “at the right time” before the requests were sent early this month, they said.
Sources attributed the discrepancy to the fact that the two agencies chose two different passports of Nirav Modi to list the required details. Both requests were sent through the CBI, which is the nodal agency for Interpol in India — the ED request was sent first.
“We decided that only the latest passport on which he has been travelling, despite revocation, would be taken into account. Thus, changes were accordingly made in the application,” said an official, involved in the process.
”If the requests with two different names had been sent, Interpol could have raised queries and sought clarifications. That would have further delayed the RCN,” said the official.
According to a CBI officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mismatch may have led to a delay but not rejection of the request. “The request mentions the passport number along with all possible aliases of the fugitive. Such requests are very carefully examined by the legal division of Interpol in France, and only then is the RCN is published. We are confident that the RCN will be published soon,” the officer said.
According to sources, Nirav Modi has been found to hold six passports — all issued after the earlier passport’s leaflets got over.
However, sources said, at least four of these passports have different names — one has Nirav Modi, the other names him as Nirav. Two other passports, for which the CBI and ED want the RCN issued, have his middle name in a different order.
Once the RCN is published, the agencies expect Nirav Modi to be confined to the country he is located at that time before they proceed with extradition requests.
In a recent meeting held at the Ministry of External Affairs, the agencies were advised to wait until the Interpol issues RCNs against Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi before sending extradition requests to any country. Modi and Choksi have been accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore through fraudulent Letters of Undertaking.
On June 14, The Indian Express reported that Interpol had informed Indian agencies that Nirav Modi travelled four times between three countries as recently as March on a revoked Indian passport.
It has now emerged that while the Manchester office of Interpol in its communication to CBI mentioned four journeys of Modi on the revoked passport, he may have actually travelled only thrice. His last travel, according to Interpol, was on March 31 from Heathrow airport in London to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at 9 am.
However, records show that he flew from Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle at 10 pm on March 30 as well. Agencies now suspect that on March 30, Modi may have missed his flight after checking in.