London, England: The Indian High Commission in London has handed over the extradition request documents for fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, to the UK Central Authority. Modi wanted in India as a prime accused in the USD 2 billion loan fraud scam at Punjab National Bank.
The unit within the UK government’s Home Office will now process the request, which falls under mutual legal assistance requests, to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings, before an extradition warrant can be issued against Modi.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh had said earlier this week that an extradition request for Modi “has been sent by a Special Diplomatic Bag to the High Commission of India (HCI), London, for onward transmission to the UK authorities”.
It later emerged that the 47-year-old was able to travel in and out of Britain at least four times since his passport was cancelled by the Indian authorities in February, having visited the UK, France and Belgium among some of the countries in the past few months.
During his stay in London he was reportedly living in the heart of the city above his jewellery boutique called “Nirav Modi” on Old Bond Street, which has since closed down. His last reported exit from the UK was on a flight to Paris at the end of March.
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 on January 16. While it has now emerged that Choksi has taken citizenship of the Caribbean island of Antigua, his nephew’s location remains unclear.
India and the UK have an extradition treaty, signed in 1992 and in force since November 1993. So far only one successful extradition has taken place from the UK to India under the treaty that of Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was sent back to India in 2016 to face trial in connection with his involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
Besides Mallya, there are around six Indian extradition requests pending in UK courts involving fugitives Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, Rajesh Kapoor, Tiger Hanif, Atul Singh, Raj Kumar Patel and Shaik Sadiq, based on a government statement made in the Rajya Sabha last year.
(With inputs from PTI)