With questions being asked in India on how absconding jeweller Nirav Modi, wanted in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, had managed to travel multiple times after the government revoked his passport in February, the CBI Monday said it had not only informed Interpol about the revocation of the passport, but had written to six major countries and reminded them on “almost weekly basis” to be on the lookout for him.
The CBI said it had written to the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Singapore and United Arab Emirates. The agency said information about Modi’s passport was even updated by Interpol in its central database.
“After getting diffusion notice against Modi issued through Interpol on February 15, we also got information about his revoked passport updated in Interpol’s database. Following this, we identified six countries where we suspected he could move. We kept in touch with all these countries through their Interpol offices. We kept writing to them, reminding them on almost weekly basis, “ the CBI’s official spokesperson said.
The agency said it wrote to these countries on April 25, May 22, May 24 and May 28. In all communications, the CBI said, the countries were reminded that there was diffusion notice pending against Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi and that their passports had been revoked.
“The revocation of Modi’s passport had been updated in the Interpol central database and was available to all countries,” the official spokesperson said. The countries were asked to provide information about their movement.
Sources said barring the Red Corner Notices, which mandates Interpol to arrest a fugitive after locating him, honouring of other notices or requests depends a lot on the diplomatic heft of the requesting country. “Why these countries did not honour India’s request, only they can answer,” a CBI official said.
READ | How to bring back a fugitive
CBI sources said the communications also mentioned Modi’s five passports along with passport numbers. They said these were passports issued after pages of previous passports were full. Modi used his latest passport to travel to all destinations mentioned by Interpol in its note to CBI, sources said.
Enforcement Directorate sources, however, maintained that Modi had six passports, some with differences in the name — one passport only mentioned the holder’s name as Nirav, another had the surname before his father’s name in the space for the father’s name.
As reported by The Indian Express, Modi travelled multiple times using his revoked passport. CBI sources said according to information provided by Interpol, Modi first moved out of the US via the John F Kennedy International Airport on February 10 and reached Heathrow in the UK. On February 15, he left Hong Kong and reached Heathrow, suggesting that he had travelled between countries but that information was not available.
After his passport was revoked on February 23, he again flew out of Heathrow to Hong Kong on March 15. Then on March 28, he took a flight out of JFK to Heathrow. This again suggests that he travelled between March 15 and 28 but none of the countries concerned informed India. On March 31, he again left Heathrow to reach the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.