In the latest development in fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s case, a UK court has rejected his bail plea on Wednesday despite an offer of an “unprecedented bail package”, which included 4-million pounds in security as well as house arrest akin to those imposed on terrorist suspects.
The 48-year-old diamond merchant, who is fighting extradition to India on charges of nearly 2 billion dollars Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, was produced before Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for his fourth attempt at bail.
Nirav Modi was taken back to Wandsworth prison in south-west London and will next appear via video link before the same court on December 4.
“The past is a prediction of what might happen in the future,” said Judge Arbuthnot, as she concluded that she remains unconvinced that he would not interfere with witnesses or fail to surrender before the court for his trial in May 2020. She also noted that the confirmation that Modi is suffering from “depression” is not such that would influence her to change her previous ruling to deny bail.
She, however, was extremely critical of “appalling” leaks to the Indian media last month associated with Modi’s latest bail application, which referred to his mental health condition from a confidential medical report.
“It is very unfortunate indeed that the doctor’s report was leaked. It should not happen and would undermine the court’s trust in the government of India, if indeed that emerges to be the source of the leak,” the Judge said.
James Lewis, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the Indian government, stressed that the leak was “deplorable” but did not come from the Indian side.
He challenged the fresh bail application on the grounds that there had been no material change in circumstances from the previous three occasions and stressed that Modi continued to possess the means and intention to flee the UK.
“He has said he will kill himself if his extradition is ordered, that in itself is the strongest motivation for someone to abscond,” noted Lewis.
(With agencies input)