Diamantaire-turned-fugitive Nirav Modi has led the Indian authorities on quite a chase across globe since he fled the country in January. The key accused behind the Rs 13,000 crore fraud unearthed at the Punjab National Bank has been spotted in Dubai, Hong Kong, Belgium, London and New York ever since. The latest buzz is that he is now back in the UK, claiming political asylum.Citing Indian and British officials, the Financial Times reported that Modi is now in London trying to claim asylum from what he calls "political persecution". According to Reuters, the Ministry of External Affairs told the daily that the government was waiting for law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened.
Incidentally, last month, too, during the third Indo-UK home affairs dialogue in Delhi, India had sought UK's help for early extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya and former IPL honcho Lalit Modi as well as in locating the billionaire jeweller. "Detailed exchange of views took place between the two sides on Indian fugitives and economic offenders residing in the UK. The Indian delegation impressed upon the UK authorities the need to expedite the process of extradition," read a statement issued by the Home Ministry after the two-hour meeting.
However, things don't seem very optimistic on the help front. After all, India and the UK signed an extradition treaty back in 1993, but that has hardly worked in India's favour in the ensuing years.
The country's second-largest state-run bank, PNB, said earlier this year that two jewellery groups headed by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi had defrauded it of about $2.2 billion by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.
The police filed charges against more than 25 people in May, including Modi, Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, two of the bank's executive directors and three companies belonging to Modi.
Ironically, the Central Vigilance Commission had reportedly red-flagged irregularities in the jewellery sector just a year before the PNB scam broke.With agency inputs