New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday said the UK Home Secretary has referred India’s request to extradite fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi to a court there for initiating legal proceedings.
“The UK Central Authority of Home Office has confirmed that the extradition request has been sent to the Westminster Magistrate Court for further proceedings,” said an official. The request to the court was forwarded by the UK Home Office a few days ago, the official added.
The request for extradition of Nirav Modi, wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, was sent to the UK authorities in July 2018.
His remarks came after The Telegraph, a British newspaper, claimed that Modi has been spotted in London.
Earlier in the day, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, based on the information received from the ED and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), the Ministry had made the request for Nirav Modi’s extradition with the UK authorities in August 2018.
“The UK is yet to respond and is considering our request for extradition of Nirav Modi,” Kumar said. Despite whatever we see on television today, the “status remains the same”, he added.
When asked about the last communication from UK authorities, he said: “As far as the Ministry of External Affairs is concerned, when we make a request for extradition then that request is sent on behalf of the investigative agencies. In the last six months, we have not received any request for any other documents.”
Earlier, a video released by The Telegraph showed Modi walking the London streets. He sported a new look — handle bar moustache and long hair — and is seen avoiding questions posed to him, replying “no comments”.
Indian intelligence agencies had provided inputs about the fugitive billionaire’s new disguise.
The newspaper report also stated Modi, against whom a red corner notice has been issued by the Interpol, has been living in the city’s West End area and has even started a new diamond business.
An extradition request against him has been pending with the UK authorities since September 2018.
On February 26, the ED attached Rs 147 crore properties of Modi and his associate companies in connection with the PNB probe.
Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under the CBI and the ED probe. The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on February 15 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
They are accused of defrauding state-run PNB of Rs 13,500 crore in connivance with certain bank officials by fraudulently getting the letters of undertaking (LoUs) and letters of credit (LoCs) issued without following the prescribed procedure.
The ED had on May 24 and May 26 filed charge sheets against the two and a court had issued non-bailable warrants against them.
The Interpol had issued a red corner notice against Modi, his brother Neeshal and sister Purvi — both Belgian citizens — as well as Mihir Bhansali and Aditya Nanvati, close associates of Modi.
However, a red corner notice request against Choksi who acquired Antiguan citizenship in January 2018 was approved later in December.
Both left India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI. The ED has till date attached Rs 4,765 crore properties of Choksi and Modi.