The Westminster Court in London rejected bail application of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi for the third time on Wednesday. The next hearing in the case will be held on May 28. The diamantaire, who is wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud and money laundering case, was arrested by Scotland Yard on March 19.
Modi’s defence team doubled the bail security to two million pounds and offered that he would stay on 24-hour curfew at his London flat claiming that conditions in the prison were “unliveable”. However, it did not seem to convince Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.
“Conditions in Wandsworth (prison) are unliveable… Modi is willing to abide by any conditions you choose to impose,” his barrister Clare Montgomery told the Judge during the lengthy hearing.
Judge Arbuthnot denied bail to Modi as she feared that he would fail to surrender.
Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which represents the Indian authorities, had argued that Modi should not be granted bail as the evidence presented by the defence does not amount to change of circumstances required to a third bail application.
Opposing CPS’ claim of Modi being a flight risk, the fugitive’s defence team led by barrister Montgomery on several occasions had reportedly made a series of arguments in an attempt to convince the judge to grant bail, even bringing up his pet dog on one occasion.
Modi is believed to have been living in the UK on an Investor Visa, applied for in 2015 – at a time when the so-called “golden visa” route was relatively easier for super-rich individuals to acquire residency rights in the UK based on a minimum of 2 million pounds investment.
Judge Arbuthnot who denied Modi bail for the second time on April 30 had said, “This is a case of substantial fraud, with a loss to a bank in India of between USD 1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case.”
Modi and his uncle, Mehul Choksi, are the main accused in the PNB scam and they both left India before the details of the fraud came to light in January 2018. He is wanted by India in relation to the Rs 13,500-crore PNB fraud case.
(With PTI inputs)