The billionaire jeweller wanted for a bank scam worth Rs 13,500 crore, Nirav Modi, has fled to UK where he is claiming political asylum, said a report in the Financial Times (FT) on Sunday, citing Indian and British officials.
Britains Home office said it does not provide information on individual cases and news agency Reuters said it could not contact Nirav Modi for comments on the FT report.
NDTV mentioned its report of May 1, where it had said reported that Nirav Modi was attempting to hire a lawyer who could help him get political asylum in the UK. The billionaire designer had approached at least two firms in the United Kingdom, sources told NDTV.
Nirav Modi is in London trying to claim asylum from what he calls “political persecution”, the FT reported.
Punjab National Bank (PNB) said earlier in 2018 that two jewellery groups headed by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it of about $2.2 billion by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.
Ministry of external affairs told the FT the Indian government was waiting for the law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened. The ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.
A report in ThePrint said Six of 20 CBI units and zones handling sensitive cases — including the Nirav Modi fraud case — are functioning without heads. It said CBI joint director Rajiv Singh, who was heading the bank securities and fraud cell handling the Nirav Modi bank scam case, has been repatriated to his parent cadre and sent back to Tripura.
India is already seeking the extradition of Vijay Mallya, a liquor and aviation tycoon, over unpaid loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman and co-owner of the Formula One Force India team moved to Britain in March last year.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed charges against more than 25 people in May including Modi, Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, two of the bank’s executive directors and three companies belonging to Nirav Modi.
Modi and Choksi have denied any wrongdoing.
Last month, senior executives at the bank were accused by the CBI, in a charge sheet filed in court, of misleading the state-run bank in late 2016 over the lender’s handling of the financial messaging system and credit guarantees that were at the centre of the fraud.