PNB fraud: Nirav Modi is in our country, confirms UK minister

In a major boost for the Indian government, UK Minister for Counter Terrorism Baroness Williams on Monday confirmed reports on the presence of Nirav Modi, an accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, in the country and assured of full cooperation for the extradition of the diamond merchant.

Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller at the heart of a more than $2 billion fraud case, has fled to the UK, where he is claiming political asylum, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

At a meeting for counter terrorism dialogue in the national capital, Williams also guaranteed Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju of UK’s support to extradite industrialist Vijay Mallya to India.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs reportedly told the Financial Times that the Indian government was waiting for the country’s law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened. The Indian government has maintained that it is uncertain of Modi’s whereabouts.

Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, another accused in the case, had fled from India in January, around a month before the PNB filed it first complaint against them in the fraud case.

Best-known to the public as a jeweller, Nirav Modi started trading under his brand in 2010, specialising in diamonds. Priyanka Chopra is the brand ambassador for his brand.

Kate Winslet and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are among those who have worn his earrings and necklaces on the Hollywood red carpet.

Punjab National Bank (PNB), the country’s second-largest state-run bank, said earlier in 2018 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.

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