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Where is Nirav Modi? Authorities in the dark about whereabouts of the bizman

India says it does not know where Modi is , after reports surfaced of him staying at JW Marriott Essex House apartments in Manhattan, New York City.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2018 18:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Nirav Modi,PNB fraud,Punjab National Bank
A Congress supporter keeps his hand on the face of a cut-out of billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi during a protest in New Delhi on February 16. (AFP Photo)

Speculation abounds over the whereabouts of Nirav Modi, the diamond merchant wanted by Indian authorities in connection with a multi-crore bank fraud, with indications he could be in the US, staying in either an upscale Manhattan hotel residential complex or elsewhere in New York state.

The Indian government has said in New Delhi that it does not know where Modi is and it could not be ascertained if it had raised the possibility of him staying in the US with American authorities, after reports surfaced of him staying at JW Marriott Essex House apartments in Manhattan, New York City. There was no response to a request for comments sent to the US Department of Justice, which would be the nodal agency for processing an international case such as this.

A request to the US for help to trace and track Modi in America would be moved in New Delhi, according to sources, as per the established protocol in these matters between the respective law enforcement agencies of the two countries.

Modi is alleged to have fled India on January 1, followed by his wife Ami Modi, a US citizen, on January 6. Initial reports, also not confirmed by authorities, indicated he was in Switzerland. The family’s Indian passports were suspended subsequently, pinning them down in whichever country they last visited.

An employee at Essex House guest services, who did not want to be identified, denied they had a guest by that name and said she “did not recall a guest” by that name or last name. This should not, however, rule out the possibility of Modi staying there, as the bookings could have been done in another name, a business or a business associate.

News channel NDTV, which first reported that Modi could be in New York City, had cited witnesses who said they had seen the jewellery designer and his wife entering and exiting the hotel. An employee at the family’s suite told NDTV the Modis were away.

A somewhat similar phone conversation took place when this reporter called a number listed for an address outside New York City, but in the same state. The man who took the call described himself as Modi’s “servant”, and said he was not home and asked to call back in an hour. Over subsequent conversations, the person who took the call said Modi was in the “East, Far East” and “he is in Mumbai”. It was unclear if the person was speaking of the same Nirav Modi.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 22:57 IST