Fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud in India, is living in a luxurious apartment situated in London’s West End and running a diamond business, according to a report published in The Telegraph.
A video released by a UK-based newspaper on Saturday shows Modi, apparently sporting a jacket made from "Ostrich hide" which costs "at least 10,000" (over Rs 9 lakh), repeatedly answering "no comment" to every question posed by the reporter.
Modi is living in a "three-bedroom flat occupying half of a floor of the landmark Centre Point tower block, with views across London", likely to be rented at around 17,000 (Rs 15 lakh), the report stated.
Exclusive: Telegraph journalists tracked down Nirav Modi, the billionaire diamond tycoon who is a suspect for the biggest banking fraud in India’s historyhttps://t.co/PpsjGeFEsy pic.twitter.com/v3dN5NotzQ
- The Telegraph (@Telegraph) March 8, 2019
Citing highly placed sources in UK government, The Telegraph reported that Modi was provided with a ‘National Insurance Number’ by the Department for Work and Pension which allows him to operate online bank accounts in the country while still being on a wanted list in India. When asked about this, Modi replies: "No comment".
Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by Indian investigating agencies after the PNB reported that it had been cheated of Rs 13,600 crore through fraudulent issue of letters LoUs and foreign letters of credit (FLCs). The duo left India in January 2018, a few weeks before the scam was unearthed. While Modi is in the UK, Choksi has become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and is learnt to be residing there.
Aware he is in London, India taking steps for his extradition: MEA
Hours after the Telegraph reported about the presence of Nirav Modi in London, the Ministry of External Affairs said that the government is taking all steps to extradite the fugitive diamond trader. "We are aware that (Nirav Modi) is in the UK, otherwise we wouldn't have requested for extradition," MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing. "The UK is still considering our request to extradite Nirav Modi…The government is taking all necessary steps for his extradition," Kumar added.
"Just because he has been spotted doesn't mean he will be brought back immediately. It is for the UK to consider our request and respond," Kumar told reporters. "If you think we aren't pursuing this, then you are wrong. Just like we followed Vijay Mallya's case, we are following this with the same intensity. Whatever steps that need to be taken by the government of India will be taken," adding the UK was considering India’s request to extradite Modi.
Nirav Modi began cheating banks under UPA: BJP
"Many of these who cheated India during the UPA government have been brought back and are in custody. Others will follow. They are living the life of fugitives and refugees," the BJP tweeted, terming the allegations of the opposition party a case of the pot calling the kettle black. "Nirav Modi’s fraud to cheat the banks started in 2011 when UPA government was in power. It was detected and exposed during the Modi government. The offender was declared a fugitive, his assets seized, illegal house blown up and businesses closed," it said. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power at the Centre from 2004 to 2014, when the Narendra Modi dispensation assumed office.
‘Uncanny similarity between Nirav Modi and PM Modi’
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the recent video of the PNB scam accused Nirav Modi in the UK shows an "uncanny similarity" between the two as both "believe they are above the law". "The video of fugitive #NiravModi in London shows an uncanny similarity between him & his bhai, PM Modi. Both have looted India and are called Modi. Both refuse to answer any questions. Both believe they are above the law. Both will face justice," the Congress chief tweeted.
The Congress slammed the government on Saturday over the media report, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running a "fraudster settlement yojana" for such fugitives.
(With PTI inputs)