Nirav Modi seeks political asylum in UK, ED seeks extradition

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Nirav Modi seeks political asylum in UK, ED seeks extradition

ED has written to the external affairs ministry seeking approval to move an application in the UK to initiate extradition proceedings against Modi.

New Delhi: Diamond merchant Nirav Modi, an accused in the Rs 11,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud, is in the United Kingdom (UK) and has sought political asylum, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

ThePrint first reported the story Wednesday quoting sources in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) saying that Modi has fled to the UK and authorities are now preparing for his extradition.

The ED has written to the ministry of external affairs seeking approval to move an application to the competent court in the UK to initiate the extradition proceedings. “After MEA gives an approval to our request, then the matter is taken up with the competent court abroad, in this case, United Kingdom,” an ED source said.

A special CBI court in Mumbai had issued non-bailable warrants against Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi on 8 April.

Until now, it was believed that Modi was in Hong Kong where he also runs a showroom. He runs another jewellery showroom in Beijing.

The 1992 extradition treaty between India and the UK requires proof of arrest warrant issued by a judge against the accused in the home state, along with the extradition request.

According to sources, the move was initiated to carry out further investigation in the case filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Modi and his associates.

PNB fraud

The fraud was detected at PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai after it was found that some letters of undertaking (LoUs) and foreign letters of credit (FLCs) were fraudulently issued to some overseas branches of Indian banks by misusing SWIFT, a messaging network that banks use to securely transmit information and instructions through a system of codes.

It was during the scrutiny of SWIFT records that the scam came to the fore.

PNB, in its complaint, directly accused Modi, his wife Ami, brother Nishal, and Choksi of conniving with two bank officials to commit the fraud.

According to CBI investigators, 293 LoUs were issued to Modi and his companies.

An LoU is a guarantee given by a bank branch in India to an overseas bank that it will meet the liability if the borrower defaults.

During investigation, several raids were carried out in the matter. The ED, until now, has searched more than 251 properties across the country. It has also seized diamond, jewellery, precious and semi-precious stones, and gold worth crores, along with immovable properties belonging to Modi and Choksi worth Rs 8,000 crore.

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