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Nirav Modi: The Fugitive Diamond Merchant Facing Extradition to India

Nirav Modi is an Indian businessman and the founder of Nirav Modi, a global diamond jewellery brand. He is wanted in India for his alleged involvement in a massive fraud and money laundering case, amounting to an estimated USD 2 billion, in the Punjab National Bank (PNB). He is currently in London, where he is fighting his extradition to India. In this article, we will explore his background, career, crimes, and legal battles.

Background and Career Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi was born on February 24, 1971, in Palanpur, Gujarat, India. He belongs to a wealthy and influential diamond merchant family, as his grandfather, Keshavlal Modi, was the founder of the Modi Group, a diamond trading company. Nirav Modi studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, but dropped out after a year. He then moved to Mumbai, where he joined his uncle, Mehul Choksi, who was the owner of Gitanjali Gems, a jewellery company.

Nirav Modi started his own diamond trading business in 1999, and soon expanded to other countries, such as Belgium, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. He also established his own diamond cutting and polishing units, and became one of the largest suppliers of loose diamonds in the world. He launched his eponymous jewellery brand in 2010, and opened his first boutique store in Delhi in 2014.

He soon gained recognition and fame for his exquisite and innovative designs, and attracted several celebrities and royals as his clients, such as Kate Winslet, Priyanka Chopra, and Queen Rania of Jordan. He also became the first Indian jeweller to feature on the cover of the Christie’s catalogue, and the first Indian to have his creations auctioned by Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

Nirav Modi’s business empire grew rapidly, and he had over 30 stores across the world, including in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Singapore. He also had a net worth of over USD 1.8 billion, and was ranked 85th on the Forbes India Rich List in 2017.

Crimes and Controversies of Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi’s success story came to an abrupt end in 2018, when he was accused of being the mastermind of one of the biggest banking frauds in India’s history. He and his associates, including his uncle Mehul Choksi, were alleged to have defrauded the PNB of over USD 2 billion, by obtaining fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from the bank’s employees, which were used to obtain loans from overseas branches of other Indian banks. The fraud was exposed when the PNB officials discovered that the LoUs were issued without proper authorization and collateral, and reported the matter to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The CBI and the ED launched investigations into the case, and filed multiple chargesheets and cases against Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, and their associates, under various laws, such as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Indian Penal Code. They also seized and attached their assets, including jewellery, properties, bank accounts, and companies, worth over USD 3 billion. They also issued non-bailable warrants and red corner notices against them, and requested their extradition from the countries where they were residing.

Nirav Modi, who had left India in January 2018, before the fraud came to light, was traced to London, where he was living in a luxurious apartment and running a new diamond business. He was arrested by the UK authorities in March 2019, on the basis of the extradition request from India, and has been in custody since then. He has denied the charges and has opposed his extradition, claiming that he is innocent and that he will not get a fair trial in India. He has also raised various grounds to challenge his extradition, such as his mental health, prison conditions, human rights, and political interference.

Nirav Modi’s extradition case has been going through a long and complex legal process in the UK courts. He has faced several hearings and appeals, and has lost most of them. The key developments in his case are as follows:

As of now, Nirav Modi has exhausted all his legal options in the UK courts, and is expected to be extradited to India within 28 days, unless there is any further intervention or delay. However, his case is also said to be affected by a “secret legal issue”, which has not been disclosed to the public. It is not clear how this issue will impact his extradition, and whether he will challenge it in any other forum. Nirav Modi remains in custody at Wandsworth prison in London, where he has been lodged since his arrest in 2019. He faces a trial in India, where he could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, if convicted.

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Written by 365PodCast

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