London/New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) The Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi suspecting he could “flee” Britain and “interfere with witnesses”, said sources.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot has granted the Metropolitan Police custody of the 48-year-old businessman till the next hearing on April 26.
Arbuthnot is the same judge who ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya last December.
The court order came after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), appearing on behalf of the Indian authorities, argued against Nirav’s bail. “There is a real risk that he could flee, interfere with witnesses, interfere with evidence,” the prosecution said.
Defence barrister Clare Montgomery said, “I (Nirav Modi) have been in the UK even before the case was registered in India. How can my bail be opposed saying I might flee the UK?”
Nirav was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities from Holborn in London on March 19 in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
He was sent to police custody and the next day, was produced before a judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, who denied his bail and deferred the hearing for Friday.
Nirav and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation after the PNB alleged that they cheated it of Rs 13,500 crore with the involvement of a few bank employees.
Both Nirav and Choksi fled India before the details of the fraud emerged in January last year.