Celebrity billionaire jeweller, Nirav Modi was remanded in custody after appearing before in London’s Westminister Magistrates Court. The fugitive diamond merchant is wanted by Indian authorities over a US$2 billion loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB). He has been accused on two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Modi was arrested in the Holborn area of Central London on Tuesday after a bank staff contacted the police. According to reports, Modi had gone into the bank to open an account.
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Judge Marie Mallon said if bail is granted, Modi would fail to surrender before the court.
“Taking into account the extensive value of the amounts of these allegations, and the fact that you access your means and the scope in this case, there are substantial grounds to believe that you would fail to surrender before the court if bail were to be granted.”
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Confirming his name and address, Modi did not agree to be extradited. His lawyer, George Hepburne Scott said his client would deny the charges which he believes are ‘politically motivated’. Scott said Modi had arrived in Britain in 2018 before the allegations were made in India. He further said that his client had lived lawfully in London and paid his taxes. The court told Modi that he would not be given bail because of the magnitude of the case. He was remanded in custody and will be appearing in the same court on March 29. Modi had offered to pay up to 500,000 pounds as security for bail.
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Nirav Modi has been indicted in India’s biggest banking fraud which came to light in January 2018. Once listed among the richest and influential men in Forbes, worth US$1.73 billion, Modi once owned 17 jewellery shops the world over, with branches in Britain, the US and Asia.