District Judge Samuel Goozee said, “I am satisfied that Nirav Modi’s extradition to India is in compliance per human rights”.
A UK judge today ruled that jeweler Nirav Modi, wanted for fraud and money laundering in the ₹ 14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan scam, can be extradited to India. The judge also dismissed arguments like his mental health worsening during the pandemic and poor Indian prison conditions.
District Judge Samuel Goozee said, “I am satisfied that Nirav Modi’s extradition to India is in compliance per human rights”, adding that he had the right to appeal the order.
Agreeing with India’s submissions, the judge said: “There is no evidence that if extradited Nirav Modi will not get justice.”
He felt the case for the jeweler to face trial in India was strong and that Nirav Modi had clear links with “other connivers” including bank officials in faked Letters of Undertaking that facilitated huge unpaid loans, the judge made it clear.
“Mr Modi personally subsequently wrote to PNB acknowledging the debt and promising to repay. The CBI is investigating that Nirav Modi firms were dummy partners,” the judge noted, adding that these companies were shadow companies operated by Nirav Modi.
“I do not accept that Nirav Modi was involved in a legitimate business. I find no genuine transactions and believe there is a process of dishonesty.”
The manner in which Letters of Undertaking were obtained, “the combination as a whole, takes us to the conclusion that Nirav Modi and co were fraudulently operating”, the judge said.
“Many of these are a matter for trial in India. I am satisfied again that there is evidence he could be convicted. Prima facie there is a case of money laundering.”
The order will be sent back to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for a sign-off.
Nirav Modi used his firms – Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds – to make fraudulent use of PNB’s LoUs in a conspiracy with banking officials, alleged the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government.
Videos of Modi’s involvement in intimidating dummy officers of his companies to remain out of the reach of Indian investigating authorities were also played by them as proof.
Led by barrister Clare Montgomery, Nirav Modi’s defence team claimed the case was that of a commercial dispute involving “authorised though ill-advised lending” that took place in “broad daylight”. It is also claimed that none of his actions met the legal threshold of perverting the course of justice or amounted to fraud.
The judge said: “Modi fears prosecution in India. Although he has expressed suicidal thoughts, the government of India has reassured safe conditions in prison, through a video in August. The video shows better sanitation and hygiene than the video in 2019.”