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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

PNB fraud case: Nirav Modi’s extradition trial to begin today in UK

The five-day hearing starting on Monday relates to the Indian government's extradition request certified by the UK government last year.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: May 11, 2020 10:32:19 am
Nirav Modi, Nirav Modi extradition, Nirav Modi extradition hearing, Nirav Modi case, PNB fraud case, Punjab National Bank fraud case, Nirav Modi PNB fraud case, India news, Indian Express The 49-year-old has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest last year. (File Photo)

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s extradition trial in the Rs 13,600 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud will begin on Monday in a part-remote setting due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The five-day hearing relates to the Indian government’s extradition request certified by the UK government last year.

The 49-year-old has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest last year. He is expected to be produced physically this time at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court. However, following the social distancing norms in the country, District Judge Samuel Goozee said that an alternative way of beginning his trial will be followed if he can’t be produced in person. He conceded that a limited number of legal representatives will be present physically in court for the trial, while witnesses give their evidence via videolink.

Hearing his case on April 28, Judge Goozee said, “Some prisons are producing prisoners in person, so I will direct Wandsworth Prison to produce Modi in person for the trial from May 11. If that is not practicable, his participation by live link remains a backstop.”

The court after approving extradition will send the order to UK Home Office for confirmation by UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The court order, however, can be challenged by Modi with the permission of the UK High Court within 14 days of the order being issued. In case no appeal is made, Modi would have to be extradited within 28 days.

The case in which Modi is being tried pertains to an alleged siphoning off of Rs 13,500 crore from the coffers of Punjab National Bank through fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking and letters of credit, along with his uncle Mehul Choksi. Investigations by CBI and ED have found that Modi diverted a large part of these funds to family members and for personal purposes.

Meanwhile, ED has already attached properties worth over Rs 1873 crore belonging to Modi while assets worth Rs 489.75 crore have been seized. The attachments include assets worth Rs 961.49 crore located in Hong Kong, Switzerland, UK, USA, Singapore and UAE.

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