Nirav Modi arrested in London

Wed 20 Mar 2019, 16:05:00
NEW DELHI: Nirav Modi, the fugitive jeweller wanted in the 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank scam, has been arrested in London and would be produced in the Westminster Magistrate's Court shortly, the UK police said.  Officers said he was picked up yesterday from a metro station Holborn, central London.

A week ago, UK issued a warrant against him following the Enforcement Directorate's request for his extradition. But a decision on his extradition cannot be taken without a long-drawn legal process, as is happening in the case of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who fled to UK in 2017 as banks tried to recover loans to the tune of Rs. 9000 crore from him.

UK has recently approved Vijay Mallya's extradition, but the matter is now pending with its Home Office.

Nirav Modi is believed to be living at a 33-storey Centre Point Apartment complex in West End, the post theatre district in London. Last month, he was sighted in London, walking around in an expensive ostrich-hide jacket. He had brushed off the questions of a reporter who spotted him, with a "no comments". The Telegraph, where the reporter worked, later reported that he has started a diamond business in Soho after acquiring the necessary permits.

The 48-year-old billionaire had skipped the country last year, weeks before the detection of the Rs. 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank scam. His relative Mehul Choksi, who was also wanted in the case, was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda on January 15, 2018.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the scam, which involved fake guarantees in the name of the state-run lender to secure loans overseas.

The arrest is expected to come as a shot in the arm for the BJP, which is under Congress attack in the matter. The Congress has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of aiding industrialists like Nirav Modi and Mehul  Choksi.

A quick response came from National Conference chief Omar Abdullah.

"It's amusing to see the BJP falling over itself to credit the PM with the Nirav Modi arrest while completely ignoring the fact that it was The Telegraph of London & it's correspondent who found Nirav Modi, not the PM & his agencies," Mr Abdullah tweeted.
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