New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) With billionaire Nirav Modi, wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud case, tracked down to London, the Ministry of External Affairs on Saturday said that the extradition request for the absconding diamantaire is “still pending” with the United Kingdom government.
The Indian government’s response came soon after the UK’s The Telegraph newspaper claimed that Nirav Modi has been spotted in London.
“You are aware that we had made the request based on the information received from the ED (Enforcement Directorate) and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation). We had made the request for Nirav Modi’s extradition with the UK authorities in August last year,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told media at a press conference here.
He said that despite whatever we see on television today, the “status remains the same”.
“UK is still to respond and is considering our request for extradition of Nirav Modi,” the spokesperson said.
He said India had made the request for extradition of Nirav Modi from the UK, “as it was aware that he was in UK”.
He said: “Because he (Nirav Modi) has been spotted in UK doesn’t mean that he can be immediately brought back to India as there is a process. We have made a request. It is for the UK government now to consider our request and respond to the CBI and the ED demands for his extradition.”
Pressed about the timeline of the last communication received from the UK authorities, he replied: “As far as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is concerned, when we make a request for extradition then that request is sent on behalf of the investigative agencies. And in the last six months we have not received any request for any other documents.”
He said the ED had sent a request to the MEA in early August last year, and the Ministry forwarded that. The CBI sent the request in end August last year.
“What we have been communicated is that both the requests are under consideration of the UK government,” he said.
Asked if the government was taking all necessary steps to extradite other fugitives on priority as in the case of Vijay Mallya, Kumar said, “We are following all the cases on priority. We will take all necessary steps.”
Earlier, the video released by The Telegraph newspaper showed Nirav Modi walking the London streets. He wore a changed look — with a handle bar moustache and long hair.
He is seen avoiding every question posed to him by the reporter, saying “no comment”.
The Indian intelligence agencies had already provided inputs about this new look of the fugitive billionaire.
The newspaper report also stated that Nirav Modi against whom a Red Corner Notice has been issued by the Interpol, has been living in the city’s West End area and has even started a new diamond business.
An extradition request against Nirav Modi has been pending since last September before the UK authorities.
Earlier on Saturday, the Congress slammed the Centre for its “failure” to bring back the fugitive diamantaire to justice while he apparently thrived elsewhere.
Hitting out at the government, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a video message said: “Today, the fugitive diamantaire ‘chota Modi’ Nirav Modi has been traced to London — living a luxurious life in a Rs 75 crore flat and wearing a jacket worth 10,000 British pounds.”
“Is it right Modiji (Narendra Modi), that first someone rob Rs 23,000 crore from the banks; escape the country without any problem and then ridicule the investigative agencies like the CBI and the ED.
“Modi hai to mumkin hai (Impossible is possible under Modi). It seems that Modiji is running Bank Fraudster Settlement Company. In five years Rs 1 lakh crore has been robbed by the fugitives and you were unable to catch them,” he said.
On February 26, the ED attached properties of Nirav Modi and his associate companies to the tune of Rs 147 crore in connection with its ongoing Punjab National Bank fraud probe.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under probe by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED. The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on February 15 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
The ED has till date attached properties worth Rs 4,765 crore of Choksi and Nirav Modi.