20 Jun 2018: How is Nirav Modi traveling with revoked Indian passport?
It's been months since Nirav Modi started playing cat-and-mouse with Indian authorities. Recently, after reports emerged he was in the UK, he left for Brussels within two days.
What's surprising is that he's still traveling on an Indian passport. Incidentally, it was revoked as far back as February.
We analyze what went wrong, and how he still might be using the revoked passport.
Scam: Modi's passport was revoked weeks after he fled India
During 2011-17, Modi, owner of the Nirav Modi brand of jewels, and his uncle Mehul Choksi, Gitanjali Gems chairman, connived with PNB officials to get loans issued fraudulently.
The scam, initially estimated at Rs. 280cr, grew to Rs. 13,400cr as the probe progressed.
Modi and Choksi left India weeks before news broke in February.
On February 23, their Indian passports were revoked.
Cancellation: So what happens after a passport is revoked?
After revocation of passport, the foreign ministry updates the status in its database, informs immigration and investigating-agency (here, CBI), which tells Interpol.
Interpol then issued a 'diffusion' that keeps member countries informed of wanted persons.
In Modi's case, his status was updated in Interpol's database, a CBI spokesperson confirmed.
CBI also kept in touch with six countries which he was suspected to frequent.
Fact: Can one travel after passport has been revoked?
Passports, when swiped at international airports outside the home country, log the person's details, which are verified against a country's immigration databases. These databases contain much information, including any possible requests/notices by Interpol. So technically, one can't travel internationally if their passport is revoked.
Travel: So how did he travel?
This isn't certainly known, but it is possible he used his Indian documents; countries might have ignored Interpol's diffusion since it doesn't mandate arrest.
ED officials claim he is still using all his six passports, which is believed to include a Singapore as well as a Morocco passport.
But MEA says all five except Indian one have been physically cancelled.
Status: Where is Modi now?
Earlier this month, reports claimed Modi had fled fled to Brussels, two days after he reportedly reached the UK for "political asylum."
In India, investigators have provisionally attached Modi's assets worth at least Rs. 3,000cr. Non-bailable warrants have been issued.
CBI recently approached Interpol for a red notice against Modi. The ED is meanwhile planning to file extradition requests with multiple countries.