Nirav Modi in UK now, seeking political asylum

New Delhi: Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller who is in the eye of the storm for a banking fraud in excess of $2 billion has fled to the UK, where he is claiming political asylum, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing Indian and British officials.

Britain’s Home Office said it does not provide information on individual cases. Punjab National Bank had earlier said that in 2018 two jewellery groups headed by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it of about $2.2 billion by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.

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Nirav Modi is in London trying to claim asylum from what he calls “political persecution”, the report said. Ministry of external affairs told the FT the Indian government was waiting for the law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened.

In May, the CBI filed charges against more than 25 people including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other officials.

India is already seeking the extradition of Vijay Mallya, a liquor and aviation tycoon, over unpaid loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman moved to Britain in March last year.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed charges against more than 25 people in May including Modi, Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, two of the bank’s executive directors and three companies belonging to Nirav Modi. Modi and Choksi have denied any wrongdoing.

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