China directs India to Hong Kong government in Nirav Modi case
China said on Monday the Hong Kong government was equipped to deal with the arrest and extradition of fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi under relevant laws, indicating it was unlikely to directly interfere with the legal process.
Hong Kong, one of the “special administrative regions” (SARs) of China, is where high-profile diamond merchant Modi is said to be hiding following accusations that he defrauded state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) of around $2 billion.
India has submitted a request to the Hong Kong government’s department of justice for Modi’s provisional arrest.
China’s foreign ministry was vague when the spokesperson was asked during a news briefing on Monday whether the mainland or central government would help in bringing Modi to justice.
“According to the one country, two systems and basic law of Hong Kong special administrative region, HKSAR under the assistance and authorisation of the central government can make proper arrangements on judicial mutual assistance with other countries,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
Geng said India would have to follow Hong Kong’s legal process.
“If India makes relevant request to the HKSAR, we believe HKSAR will follow the basic law and relevant laws and (act) under relevant judicial agreements with India (on) the relevant issue,” Geng added.
On Thursday, minister of state for external affairs VK Singh told Parliament: “The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Modi by the government of the Hong Kong special administrative region.”
Singh said India had submitted the request for Modi’s arrest to Hong Kong on March 23.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post had reported, quoting a source, that Indian authorities had “reason to believe that he (Modi) is in Hong Kong”. The provisional arrest would be the precursor to an extradition request.
According to the Post, Modi opened his first diamond boutique in Hong Kong in 2015 at Elements shopping mall in Kowloon. “Last year, he opened another one at the IFC Mall and a 3,000 sq ft flagship store at an upscale shopping arcade in Tsim Sha Tsui,” the report said.
Modi also has shops in Beijing and Macau, another SAR, under the mainland.
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court has issued non-bailable warrants for absconding diamond merchants Modi and Mehul Choksi, the other suspect in the case.
The warrants were issued by the court on Saturday, after the agency said the duo did not respond to two summons issued against them. Both Modi and Choksi have so far refused to cooperate with the CBI probe.