Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s bail plea was rejected by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday (local time). The next hearing is scheduled for April 26.
This is the second time that Nirav Modi’s bail plea has been rejected. His first request was turned down on March 20. Judge Marie Mallon had cited the “high value of amount involved in the allegations” as the reason behind the rejection of his first bail plea.
During the hearing, Toby Chadman, who is representing the Crown prosecution on behalf of the Indian authorities argued that Nirav Modi may destroy evidence and try to bribe and threaten potential witnesses if granted bail.
Cadman said that considering the scale of the fraud and the likely sentence that Nirav Modi would face, the fugitive businessman should not be granted bail. He added that there’s a real danger that he would flee justice.
He further argued that telephone records relating to the fraud have been destroyed in India at the behest of Nirav Modi. “Potential witnesses have also been threatened by the diamantaire.”
“He has the resources and intent to settle in a jurisdiction that may not be willing to extradite him to India,” Cadman said.
“Given the nature of the charges and his willingness to interfere in the process of justice, he should not be granted bail and would flee justice. Despite the fact that the defence will argue that he will not do any such thing because of the ‘intense media scrutiny’ of the case,” he argued.
Nirav Modi’s attorney Claire Montgomery argued that the businessman has a right to bail, despite the magnitude of the numbers. She argued that Modi is not a “threat” and has no connections with the “underworld.”
“The reality is that the nature and size of these allegations is not a safe judgement that he will flee. He has remained in the UK since the fraud allegations were made in India,” she stated, alleging that he had come to Britain to establish his business.
“He has been here since January 2018 and has not taken the opportunity to run away…He has made sure he remains here in a highly visible way,” she said.
Before the hearing commenced, Cadman told ANI, “In case Nirav Modi gets bail, we will appeal against it in the High Court. We will do everything to keep him in.”
India is seeking Nirav Modi’s extradition to make him face the law of the land for allegedly committing economic offences like fraud and money laundering to the tune of US $ 2 billion.
A joint team of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials arrived here on March 28 for the hearing.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot, who in December last year ordered for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India to face charges of causing a loss of Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of banks, presided over Saturday’s hearing in London.
Chetan Choksi, the brother of Mehul Choksi, was also seen at the court today. Chetan Choksi is the owner of Antwerp-based diamond dealer Diminco NV.
(With ANI inputs)