India’s evidence admissible, says UK court hearing Nirav Modi extradition plea

Diamond jeweller Nirav Modi.

London, (Asian independent) A UK court hearing the extradition proceedings of diamantaire Nirav Modi has ruled that the evidence submitted by the Indian authorities to establish a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against him is broadly admissible.

District Judge Samuel Goozee on Tuesday heard the arguments for and against the admissibility of certain witness statements provided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court here and adjourned the case for a two-day hearing on January 7 and 8, 2021.

Nirav Modi is wanted in India to face trial in the estimated Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud scam case.

The 49-year-old followed the proceedings via videolink from Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, where he has been lodged since March 2019.

He will next appear from prison, by videolink, for a regular brief 28-day remand call-over hearing on December 1.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, emphasised that the evidence, including witness statements under Section 161 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), meets the required threshold for the UK court to determine whether Nirav Modi has a case to answer before the Indian judicial system.

Simultaneously, fugitive businessman Mallya has a case to answer in India in his fraud and money laundering case has cleared various levels of the UK judicial system and is currently undergoing a “confidential” legal issue before UK Home Secretary Priti Patel can consider signing off on his extradition.

After Tuesday’s ruling, the judge will decide how much weight he places on these documents amid the “37 bundles of evidence” to be considered for his ruling in the case expected early next year.

Modi is the subject of two sets of criminal proceedings, with the CBI case relating to a large-scale fraud upon PNB through the fraudulent obtaining of “Letters of Understanding” (LOUs or loan agreements), and the ED case relating to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.

Nirav Modi also faces two additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or “criminal intimidation to cause death” added to the CBI case.