Nirav Modi declared fugitive economic offender in PNB fraud case

Nirav Modi was earlier arrested in London and his extradition process is pending.

December 05, 2019 12:19 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 06:58 am IST - Mumbai

Nirav Modi. File

Nirav Modi. File

A special court on Thursday declared absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, prime accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, a fugitive economic offender (FEO).

The declaration allows the government to initiate action to confiscate the offender’s properties.

On January 5, Vijay Mallya became the first FEO under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed an application on July 10, 2018, seeking to declare him an FEO.

Modi said, “The motivation for the prosecution by PNB is (a) the desire of the bank (the Complainant) to avoid its liability towards its co-bankers; (b) to put the blame on previous actions by present management to avoid any criticism regarding poor financial performance by PNB Bank.”

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are the prime accused in the PNB fraud case, related to alleged fraudulent issuance of Letters of Undertaking that caused a loss of over $2 billion to the public sector bank.

Nirav Modi was earlier arrested in London and his extradition process is pending.

The 48-year-old had moved yet another bail application last month with an unprecedented house arrest guarantee, akin to those imposed on terrorist suspects, as well as citing mental health issues from being behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March.

But the bail plea was turned down by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot over continued fears of witness intimidation and failure to surrender before the court for his extradition trial in May 2020.

“The past is a prediction of what might happen in the future,” Judge Arbuthnot said at the last hearing on November 6.

The U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition proceedings, said there is no further prospect of an appeal for bail in a higher court as the U.K. High Court has already turned down Nirav Modi’s plea earlier this year.

“You only get to go once and can’t keep appealing over and over,” a CPS spokesperson said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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