London:  Nirav Modi, one of the prime accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam has been tracked down to London’s West End where he has reportedly begun a new diamond business. According to a video and interview published by The UK Daily Telegraph, the fugitive diamantaire is currently residing in an £8 million flat near Oxford Street, London.

Modi started his new diamond business, nearby his luxury apartment, in May 2018. “Nirav Modi appears to have adopted a surprisingly nonchalant attitude to his fugitive status, walking his small dog each day between his apartment and the diamond company’s office in a townhouse in Soho, just a few hundred yards from his Centre Point home,”a report by The Telegraph claimed.

The 48-year-old bank fraud fugitive who faces an Interpol red corner notice is currently subject of an extradition request by India.  In August 2018, the Indian government had forwarded the requests from the CBI and Enforcement Directorate to the UK authorities seeking the extradition of Nirav Modi. According to a report by the Times of India, top sources revealed that Nirav Modi had allegedly undergone plastic surgery in London in order to escape extradition.

Last month, the absconding diamond trader Nirav Modi, a prime accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case scam, claimed that he had not done anything wrong and the scam was a civil transaction. His statement was in response to the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on ED’s application to declare him a fugitive offender under the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Nirav Modi said, “I’ve done nothing wrong.PNB scam was a civil transaction, blown out of proportion and can’t come back to the country due to security reasons.”

In June 2018, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had written to several European countries seeking help in tracing Nirav Modi. Modi and Choksi, and their three partnership firms, Diamond ‘R’ US, Solar Exports and Stellar DIamonds, are accused of routing Rs 13,500 crore worth of fraudulent transactions through state-owned PNB. Both left India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the scam broke.

(With Agency inputs)