Nirav Modi Money Laundering Case: Second Phase of Extradition Trial Ends on September 11
The famous diamond merchant Nirav Modi has been lodged at a prison in London since his arrest in March last year. He is the main accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) money laundering case.
The second stretch of the extradition trial began on September 7
The 49-year-old jeweller is contending the extradition charges related to the estimated USD 2-billion PNB scam brought by the Indian government. He is represented by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. This five-day hearing concluded on September 11. The presiding judge Samuel Goozee had earlier directed Modi’s appearance from a room in Wandsworth Prison in south-west London to ensure social distancing norms. Modi did give any evidence but merely attended the hearings.
Indian authorities made an additional request for extradition trial contending serious foul play
Justice Goozee was also in charge of the first leg of the extradition in May, during which the CPS aimed to make a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against Modi. The trial catered to an additional extradition request made by the Indian authorities which include the charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and “intimidating witnesses or criminal intimidation to cause death” against Modi.
The charges against Modi relate to the diamond business and his firms Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports, and Stellar Diamonds are alleged to have made fraudulent use of a credit facility offered by PNB, known as letters of undertaking (LoUs).
The CPS, appearing for India told the Court that several PNB staff members conspired with Modi to ensure LoUs were issued in favour of his companies. The fact that these members were subject and liable to the required credit check, recording the issuance of the LoUs and commission charge upon the transactions was also taken into consideration.
Mr Modi’s defence in response to allegations of fraud and money laundering
Mr Modi’s team has deposed witnesses to establish the volatility of the gems trade to counter the allegations levelled on him. He also claims that issuing Lou's is standard practice. Over his time in the UK for the past year, Mr Modi has made repeated attempts for seeking bail, each of which was turned down by the British authorities. The jeweller was arrested on March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard of the UK.
Additional hearings are scheduled for November 3, and December 1, when both sides will make their final submissions. It is expected that the judge will announce his verdict after hearing all the arguments on December 1, 2020.
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