Economy

Nirav Modi’s legal team argues against his extradition

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 20, 2019 Published on March 20, 2019

Nirav Modi   -  REUTERS

Arguing against the extradition of Nirav Modi — the billionaire diamantaire who was arrested in London on Wednesday — his legal team pointed to a number of factors to highlight Modi’s commitment to the UK. He was represented by George Hepburne Scott, an extradition barrister at Church Court Chambers.

The team pointed to the fact that Modi’s son had been at school here for the past five years, and that Modi was attending “education courses” in the UK and was a regular tax payer. He was working on a salary of £20,000 a month for Diamond Holdings – a private limited company listed in Harrow –, and had a National Insurance number, the court, details of which were presented with payslips.

Scott said Modi strongly contested the allegations against him and had prepared comprehensive arguments to support his case, he said pointing to political motivations involved in the case against him and human rights considerations.

They had for months now expressed their willingness to cooperate and been in touch with extradition authorities, it was also argued. They also noted he had no documents to travel on. It emerged that he had had three Indian passports, all revoked by India, as well as residency cards for the UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service – making representations on behalf of India as it did with the Vijay Mallya extradition – objected to the request for bail, pointing to “substantial grounds” to believe that he would fail to surrender. Highlighting the UK domestic laws that would apply to Modi, the prosecution said that he would be liable on charges of conspiracy to defraud and a conspiracy to conceal here. In India, he was wanted on fraud and money laundering charges, the court was told. The hearing on March 29, will be an initial case management hearing.

It follows the arrest warrant issued last week, after Home Secretary Sajid Javid referred India’s extradition request for Modi to the court.

Modi left India in January last year, since when his precise location has been the subject of much speculation. In August last year, India handed over an extradition request to UK authorities even as his location remained unknown unknow. Earlier this month, he was captured on camera by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper living in a luxury apartment block by Oxford Street.

Last June, Interpol issued a Red Notice against Modi and two others on the Enforcement Directorate’s request.

After decades during which India secured just one extradition, the past year has been a successful one with Javid signing two extradition orders — Mallya and Sanjeev Chawla, who is wanted in connection with a match-fixing scam. Among those on Modi’s legal team are Anand Doobay, a partner at Boutique Law LLP, who also represented Mallya.

The events on Thursday, mark a hastening of the extradition process. Modi had been expected to surrender to police by appointment next week, but the arrest was made after a clerk at the bank recognised Modi and alerted authorities.

Published on March 20, 2019
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