A London court has issued a warrant against diamond designer Nirav Modi wanted by India in a money laundering case and his arrest looks imminent, news reports say.
Modi is accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of $2 billion when the previous United Progressive Alliance led by Congress party was in power. He fled the country last year to escape arrest.
Following an extradition request from India’s Enforcement Directorate, UK home secretary Sajid Javid recently referred his case to Westminster Magistrates Court.
The court will start legal proceedings after his appearance to secure bail. Modi’s case will follow the same legal process as that of another fugitive from India Vijay Mallya who, like him, fled to Britain after defrauding some 17 banks.
The BJP-led federal government is seeking early extradition of Modi and Mallya as Opposition parties have been targeting it for its failure to stop the two businessmen from fleeing the country.
The government hit back at its critics by saying Modi and Mallya took huge loans from banks under the previous regime.
India agencies and media knew Modi was living in London. Ultimately, journalists of the British daily Telegraph confronted him on the streets of London recently. They then tracked him to a posh rented apartment in the city’s West End and reported that he was involved in a new diamond business.
The Indian government is also seeking the extradition of Modi’s uncle Mehul Choksi from Antigua. Choksi and Modi allegedly secured credit from overseas banks using fraudulent guarantees from some corrupt bankers.
The UK court’s issuance of arrest warrant against Modi has upset opposition parties in India who were planning to use Modi’s case in their election campaigns.