Nirav Modi’s extradition: CBI, ED submitted over 40,000 docs to prove conspiracy
The UK court, which cleared diamantaire Nirav Modi’s extradition to India on Thursday, praised the evidence the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) presented before it while dismissing claims that he would not get a fair trial.
The evidence was submitted in form of over 40,000 documents to prove the conspiracy between Modi, his dummy firms, and Punjab National Bank officials in connection with the fraud and money laundering case.
“...CBI submitted voluminous oral and documentary evidence to substantiate the charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal misconduct by public servants, destruction of evidence, and criminal intimidation of evidence,” CBI spokesman R C Joshi said in a statement on Thursday.
He added the judgement is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the law after commission of large value frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions. “The judgement also vindicates the painstaking investigation by CBI, especially since Nirav Modi had raised various issues with regard to the admissibility of evidence, the fairness of the investigation, trial, prison conditions, availability of health facilities in India and extraneous consideration, with a view to divert attention from his own acts.”
Modi’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery, who represented former liquor baron Vijay Mallya as well in his extradition case, raised the dual criminality clause during the trial, which means that a country seeking extradition has to show the evidence it is relying on is admissible in the UK too.
The court accepted the evidence provided and also questioned the legitimacy of Modi’s business. The investigators provided transcriptions of audio conversations showing Modi threatening to kill a witness if he did not follow his instructions.
The government offered a sovereign assurance about the facilities at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, where Modi will be kept if extradited, and presented a video of the prison. The court observed that Modi will have better space in the Indian jail than where he is now – the Wandsworth prison near London.
Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018 before the CBI registered its first case against him. An Interpol red notice was issued against him in June 2018. The first extradition request to the UK was sent in August that year. Modi, who was arrested in March 2019, filed seven pleas seeking bail and contested India’s extradition request calling it a political witch-hunt. He claimed that if extradited, his rights will be violated.
A CBI officer associated with the probe said Modi made every effort to avoid jail. “He was so desperate that he even told the court he was ready to wear electronic ankle monitors. He once even offered to pay 4 million pounds as security for bail. We produced strong evidence showing how he has destroyed evidence and intimidated the witnesses in the past, which was accepted by the court and his bail was rejected every single time.”
An ED officer said this was the longest extradition trial India has fought as the accused remained in jail for two years.
Joint directors of CBI and ED, Anurag and Satyabrata Kumar, monitored the proceedings on daily basis in association with Crown Prosecution Service and visited London to assist the prosecutors.
Praveen Sinha, who is now CBI’s interim director, also visited London to coordinate the trial as Modi hired a battery of lawyers in India and the UK to defend himself.
India last year secured extradition of Mallya. But his extradition has been held up due to secret legal proceedings, according to the British government. Mallya is learnt to have applied for asylum in the UK.