PNB Scam: London court denies bail to Nirav Modi once again

Economic offender, diamond merchant Nirav Modi, the main accused in INR₹ 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank scam, will not be released on bail, as per direction of a court in London today. The court rejected  his bail application siting that he may attempt to try and seek citizenship of Vanuatu, a remote island country located in the South Pacific Ocean.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said, “There are substantial grounds to believe that Nirav Modi will fail to surrender. She is the same judge that ordered the extradition of liquor baron, former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in December.

Today was the second time the court denied bail since his arrest last week.

Mr. Modi will now return to HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London, where he has been lodged since last Wednesday. The next date of hearing was fixed for the 26th of April, when Nirav Modi will be produced in court via video conference.

Crown Prosecution Service or CPS, who is appearing on behalf of Indian agencies said the billionaire made a death threat to an eyewitness and tried to bribe another with INR₹ 20 lakh to evade arrest.

The CPS added that, “there is a real risk that he could flee, interfere with witnesses, interfere with evidence.”

The prosecution provided evidence of phone conversations being destroyed in India on the directions of Nirav Modi.

Nirav Modi hired the same lawyer Claire Montgomery, who had earlier represented Vijay Mallya. He countered that his client is not a great flight risk as he rented a flat in London in his own name and was trying to open a bank account as well in his name just when he was arrested on the 20th of March.

Nirav Modi’s uncle Mehul Choksi was also being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation in the INR₹ 13,000 crore PNB scam.

The duo left India before the details of the fraud emerged in January last year.