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UK court to give final verdict on Nirav Modi's bail plea soon

BusinessToday.In     June 12, 2019

The UK court will pronounce a final verdict on fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi's bail application on Wednesday. After filing the third bail application in the case on Tuesday, his counsel Clare Montgomery had pleaded before Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, that white-collar crimes had low escape rate, and that his bank accounts were frozen. The magistrate, however, said that Modi might not have the "willingness" but he had the "means" to do so.

Nirav Modi's bail plea was rejected twice before as he fought his extradition case in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case amounting to up to Rs 13,700 crore.

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The CPS team, represented by barrister Nick Hearn from Furnival Chambers, had reportedly opposed the latest bail application on the grounds that Modi had in the past made death threats to witnesses and also attempted to destroy evidence in the case. The team had earlier informed the court that he had made attempts to acquire the citizenship of Vanuatu -- a remote island in the South Pacific Ocean -- in late 2017, and could do it again.

"He has had his two bail applications in the lower court. He can only make a third application if he can persuade the court that there has been a change in circumstances. He is arguing a change of circumstances based on new evidence," a spokesperson for the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition proceedings, said on Tuesday.

Modi's legal team, led by solicitor Anand Doobay, has previously offered 1 million pounds as security alongside an offer to meet stringent electronic tag restrictions on their client's movements, "akin to house arrest".

At the last hearing in the extradition case on April 26, when Modi had appeared before Judge Arbuthnot via videolink from prison, no application had been made for bail and he was further remanded in judicial custody until May 24. Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers in central London on March 19.

Manoj Sharma with PTI inputs

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