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From Forbes to London jail, Nirav Modi’s journey began with pair of earrings

A third generation diamantaire, Nirav Modi was born in India, but raised in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2019 21:56 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nirav Modi,Nirav Modi arrested,diamantaire Nirav Modi
A third generation diamantaire, Nirav Modi was born in India, but raised in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world. (Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint File Photo )

Nirav Modi rose in the diamond jewellery business in 2010, a year after he designed a pair of earrings for a friend after much coaxing and cajoling.

During his meteoric rise in the diamond jewellery industry Modi stood apart, shining as brightly as the diamonds he used in his jewellery. But that was over the past decade.

Today, he is a man on the run in multi-crore scam that has him got him listed as a fugitive - a far cry from the pages of the Forbes magazine in which he was listed as a billionaire for the first time in 2013. In 2017, he was ranked 1,234 in Forbes’ world’s billionaires list with him being ranked at 85 in India with an estimated financial worth of $1.73 billion.

But that diamond-like glitter on his career was soon to dull and lose its sheen as the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam unfolded and he began being chased by various law enforcement authorities including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and even the tax department for illegal transactions and alleged frauds.

A third generation diamantaire, Nirav Modi was born in India, but raised in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world.

For Nirav Modi, discussions around the dinner table about the size and cut of the latest stone the family business had acquired was an everyday affair.

Modi, however, did not wish to be involved in the diamond business. His ambition in life, according to those who know him, was to be a music conductor.

But the diamond world didn’t let go of him so easily. In 2010, a year after he designed the earrings for a friend, his images were splashed across the cover of Christie’s auction catalogue - a first for any Indian - for his Golconda diamond necklace that sold for $3.56 million at a Hong Kong auction.

Known to be a soft-spoken gentleman, the father of three converses in Gujarati with his wife and children and is a stickler for family customs and traditions.

Such was the sheer beauty of his designs that Hollywood stars such as Kate Winslet and Dakota Johnson wore them at red carpet events.

But that life had a short shelf life. Chased by law enforcement agencies, Nirav Modi fled India in January 2018.

On Tuesday, the law finally caught up with him when he was arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by a UK court. He was produced in court and bail was denied to him even though he offered to present the court with a surety of 500,000 pounds, which the court turned down.

First Published: Mar 20, 2019 21:56 IST