PNB fraud: Nirav Modi is in our country, confirms UK minister, assures support to Indiahttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/punjab-national-bank-fraud-case-nirav-modi-in-uk-extradition-5212986/

PNB fraud: Nirav Modi is in our country, confirms UK minister, assures support to India

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, another accused in the case, had fled from India in January, around a month before the PNB filed it first complaint against them in the fraud case.

Diamond merchant Nirav Modi.
Diamond merchant Nirav Modi.

In a major boost for the Indian government, UK Minister for Counter Terrorism Baroness Williams on Monday confirmed reports on the presence of Nirav Modi, an accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, in the country and assured of full cooperation for the extradition of the diamond merchant.

At a meeting for counter terrorism dialogue in the national capital, Williams also guaranteed Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju of UK’s support to extradite industrialist Vijay Mallya to India. Mallya, who has been staying in the UK for over a year now, has been accused of defaulting on loans worth thousands of crores.

“Had a fruitful meeting (with the UK minister) and I have put across the Government of India’s demand for cooperation from UK authorities on extradition of whoever is wanted in India. The minister has assured of cooperation, whether it is Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallya,” Rijiju told ANI.

The minister added, “There are elements using UK’s land to propagate anti-India activities. I’ve requested the minister that this must be curtailed. Both UK and India are free countries but the freedom of expression cannot be used to abuse a country’s image.”

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An official said India tried to allay apprehensions of the UK on the issue of human rights and conditions of jails, saying India is a democracy and fully adhered to international laws.

After the meeting, Rijiju posted on Twitter: “I had a very useful meeting with the UK Minister Baroness Williams. We discussed about India-UK joint efforts to deal with Terrorism and Extremism. We also agreed to cooperate in matters of extradition and sharing of informations.”

Nirav Modi has reportedly fled to UK and is claiming political asylum, Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing Indian and British officials. India’s Ministry of External Affairs reportedly told the Financial Times that the Indian government was waiting for the country’s law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened. The Indian government has maintained that it is uncertain of Modi’s whereabouts.

Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, another accused in the case, had fled from India in January, around a month before the PNB filed it first complaint against them in the fraud case.

Letter Rogatories (LRs) in the cases lodged against Nirav Modi by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the CBI and the Income Tax Department were sent to the UK Central Authority (UKCA) on March 19, April 14 and April 15 respectively. The UKCA has forwarded these LRs to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for execution and conveyed that action would be taken on implementation of the ED LR. The ED and the SFO have entered discussions on the way forward.

(With PTI inputs)