New Delhi, June 11: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday approached the Interpol seeking Red Corner Notices (RCN) against diamond merchant Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi in connection with the Rs 12,636-crore PNB fraud case.

The agency has written to the Interpol to issue the notice which would mean that the member countries of the Lyon-based international police cooperation agency can arrest and extradite Nirav Modi who fled the country in the first week of January, weeks before the bank filed a complaint with the CBI.

Nirav Modi was last publicly seen in a Press Information Bureau group photograph of CEOs and top brass of Indian corporate sector with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Davos, Switzerland.

The development comes hours after UK Minister for Counter Terrorism Baroness Williams confirmed reports on the presence of Modi in the country, further assuring India of full cooperation for the extradition of the latter.

Earlier today, it was reported that Modi had fled to the UK, to seek political asylum there. UK daily Financial Times cited British and Indian officials in its report saying that Modi was trying to claim asylum from what he called “political persecution”.

The report had also quoted the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) saying that the government was waiting for the country’s law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition.

“Officials in India and the UK say he (Nirav Modi) is in London, where his company has one store, and is trying to claim asylum from what he said was political persecution,” The Financial Times reported.

“There are always a number of complicated cases that add a little tension and spice to our relationship with India. But there is also an appreciation from both sides that we have a legal process that has to be gone through and that we are of course governed by human rights legislation,” a senior UK Foreign Office official was quoted as saying by the report.

Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, along with others, are being probed by central agencies after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by the PNB that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a 12000-page chargesheet in the court against Nirav Modi and 23 others, including his father Deepak Modi, sister Purvi Mehta, brother-in-law Maiank Mehta, brother Neeshal Modi and another relative Nehal Modi.

The ED has charged the accused persons under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the over Rs 13,000 crore PNB scam case.

The CBI, in its charge sheets filed on May 14, had alleged that Nirav Modi, through his companies, siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs 6,498.20 crore using fraudulent LoUs issued from PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai. Choksi allegedly swindled Rs 7080.86 crore, making it possibly the biggest banking scam in the country, it alleged.

An additional loan default of over Rs 5,000 crore to Choksi’s companies is also a matter of probe under the CBI.

It is alleged that Nirav Modi and Choksi through their companies availed credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using fraudulent guarantees of the PNB given through LoUs and letters of credit which were not repaid bringing the liability on the state-run bank, the officials said.

(With PTI inputs)