UK court rejects Nirav Modi’s bail plea for fifth time

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London High Court on Thursday rejected fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi’s bail plea in Punjab National Bank (PNB) bank fraud case for the fifth time.

Modi, the prime accused in USD 2 billion PNB fraud, is currently lodged at Wandsworth prison in south-west London and is wanted for his alleged role in the Rs 13,570 crore loss caused to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) along with his uncle, Mehul Choksi.

Modi, 48, was arrested in March last year by Scotland Yard in connection with the case.His five-day extradition trial is due to begin on May 11. Modi was remanded in custody till February 27, 2020, after he appeared before a UK court on Thursday via video link from his London prison.

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The latest bail hearing followed further assurances by Modi, including an increase in the amount of security he had offered as a guarantee as well as stricter bail conditions.

On his last bail application, Modi offered USD 4 million as a security guarantee in return for bail, an offer that was rejected by judges who ruled that there was a real risk that Modi would flee the UK to a country which has no extradition treaty with India.

At the same hearing, the judge ruled that there was “strong evidence” that Modi had engaged in “witness intimidation” and destroying evidence.

Given the seriousness of such allegations, it was all but certain that the latest bail application would be rejected.

Modi’s lawyers had contended that their client was being held in difficult conditions at Wandsworth prison and had also claimed that his mental health was deteriorating as a result of his incarceration.

However, ruling at the High Court today, Justice Ian Dove said there was a ‘clear need for this application to be refused in the present circumstances.’

It comes just days after the second sale of assets belonging to Modi valued at millions of dollars.

The items include a luxury Rolls Royce car, a Patek Philippe watch and a painting by the renowned Indian artist Amrita Sher-Gil valued at $2.5 million but expected to fetch considerably more.

(With ANI inputs)

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