Diamantaire Nirav Modi would be lodged in barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai after being extradited to India to face charges of financial fraud running into thousands of crores, the Westminster Magistrates Court was told on Monday.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Helen Malcolm, who is representing India in the court, informed district judge Samuel Mark Goozee that Modi would be placed in the same jail that was earmarked for businessman Vijay Mallya, who is also facing extradition.
Malcolm, who opened the five-day extradition trial with a forensic account of Modi’s alleged lies and attempts to threaten and bribe witnesses, set out details of the financial fraud that included some officials of a Mumbai branch of the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
Modi, 49, listened to the proceedings from the Wandsworth jail via video-link. His lawyer, Claire Montgomery, will open the defence from Tuesday morning, besides presenting witnesses, including expert Alan Mitchell, who deposed in the Mallya case on conditions in Indian prisons.
Malcolm cited from named bank officials and cited documents to recount Modi’s alleged laundering of money and transfer of funds through accounts of members of his family, entities and properties in various countries, including in the United States.
According to the CBI, Modi, brother Nehal Modi and two business associates tried to threaten witnesses and destroy evidence, which came to light after nine employees submitted details of how Modi and others took them to Cairo against their will, offered bribes and threatened them.
India has submitted a cache of documents to substantiate its request for Modi’s extradition. The court was told that loans and credit were obtained by Modi and his companies fraudulently and when the fraud was discovered, Modi allegedly began a campaign to intimidate witnesses. Mobile phones and a server were destroyed, Malcolm said.
Modi is now the subject of two extradition requests; one processed by the CBI and the other by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The CBI case relates to large-scale fraud upon PNB, through the fraudulent obtaining of Letters of Understanding (LOUs/loan agreements); the ED case relates to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
The second extradition request was made on the basis of two additional offences as part of the CBI case. It was certified by home secretary Priti Patel on February 20 as required under the 1993 India-UK extradition treaty.
The additional offences relate to allegations that Modi interfered with the CBI investigation by “causing disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses (”criminal intimidation to cause death”). They have not been joined to the CBI case, but will be dealt with at a separate later hearing likely in July, the CPS said.
Despite offering to raise the bail security amount to 4 million pounds, UK courts have refused Modi bail on the ground that he posed a flight risk and had the means to influence witnesses and tamper with evidence.
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