New Delhi: Nearly a month after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court rejected the bail plea of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi suspecting he could “flee” Britain and “interfere with witnesses”, the embattled businessman’s another bail plea was quashed on Friday by the London court. The next date of hearing has been set for May 24.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot had granted the Metropolitan Police custody of the 48-year-old businessman till today, April 26. Arbuthnot is the same judge who ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya last December.
The former court order came after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), appearing on behalf of the Indian authorities, argued against Nirav Modi’s bail. “There is a real risk that he could flee, interfere with witnesses, interfere with evidence,” the prosecution said.
Defence barrister Clare Montgomery said, “I (Nirav Modi) have been in the UK even before the case was registered in India. How can my bail be opposed saying I might flee the UK?”
Montgomery, who had earlier represented Vijay Mallya, countered to say that his client is not a “flight risk” as he has rented a flat in London in his own name and was trying to open a bank account when he was arrested.
Before the hearing began, the CPS had submitted a new file with additional evidence against Nirav Modi in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Nirav Modi was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities from Holborn in London on March 19 in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
He was sent to police custody and the next day, was produced before a judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, who denied him bail and deferred the hearing for Friday.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation after the PNB alleged that they cheated it of Rs 13,500 crore with the involvement of a few bank employees.
Both fled India before the details of the fraud emerged in January 2018. The ED on February 26, 2018 attached property worth Rs 147 crore of Nirav Modi and his associate companies in connection with the case.
With IANS inputs