By Prarthana Mitra
Fugitive Indian billionaire Nirav Modi, the main accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, has been sighted in Britain according to Interpol. On Sunday, the British authorities confirmed his presence following which Indian law enforcement authorities moved an official request for detaining and extraditing Modi, to try him for the Rs. 14,356 crore loan fraud.
Here’s what happened
The extradition request for Modi has been forwarded to the Union home ministry and will reach London following ratification by the ministry of external affairs. “The UK authorities confirmed Nirav Modi’s presence and the CBI has sent the extradition papers to the home ministry. The CBI, through Interpol, has also informed the UK authorities that Nirav Modi is to be detained, since a red corner notice exists against him,” a senior CBI official who did not wish to be named told LiveMint.
This is the first official confirmation about his current whereabouts since he first absconded this January with his uncle Mehul Choksi, shortly before the scam hit the media and authorities. Accused of having defaulted on loans worth billions, which were taken in the name of PNB, Modi fled India and according to critics, he has not faced any pressure from the External Affairs ministry since then.
On Sunday, London notified the CBI of his presence on British soil in a reply to the diffusion notice issued by the nodal investigative agency, which now demands an expedited response to their request for extradition.
Will diplomatic bureaucracy finally give way to extradition?
Earlier this month, the Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh had informed the parliament that a request has been seen to the Indian mission in the UK. In a formal letter to the High Commission of India in London, the MEA has tagged Modi as the 29th fugitive that India has requested London to extradite since 2002, while the due process for Vijay Mallya is still underway. “Now we wait for the response of the British government on this matter,” said Raveesh Kumar, a spokesperson with the external affairs ministry.
Modi is also wanted by several investigative bodies around the world after his involvement in several similar frauds came to light. The Interpol issued a red corner notice against the diamantaire on 2 July. Even though the Indian government has cancelled Modi and Choksi’s passports in February, he continues to travel on the basis of fake passports.
Choksi, on the other hand, has already secured an Antiguan citizenship which the country’s authorities claim happened with consent from the Indian government and law enforcement authorities. On August 6, India handed over the official extradition request for Choksi.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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