Asia Briefs: Billionaire accused of bank fraud flees India

A Nirav Modi showroom

In its report headlined, 'Indian celebrity jeweller flees to United Kingdom claiming political asylum, ' Financial Times also added that Indian government was waiting for the country's law enforcement agencies to approach them before pushing for an extradition, which had thus far not happened.

On February 15, 2018, the ED had registered a money laundering case against Nirav Modi and others under the provisions of the PMLA on the basis of an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Financial Times newspaper yesterday cited officials in India and Britain as saying that Mr Modi had sought asylum in Britain for what he called "political persecution". The "CBI has no confirmation yet about Nirav Modi's whereabouts", an official said.

The 47-year-old and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi, also a diamond merchant, allegedly defrauded PNB out of 2.8 billion rupees ($43.8 million).

Modi is also accused of defrauding The Bank of India (BoI).

She, however, denied commenting anything on businessman and jewellery designer Nirav Modi case and said, "I will not comment on an ongoing case with legal processes involved".

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His escape had caused massive public outcry, with opposition political parties accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping him flee.

India is already seeking the extradition of Vijay Mallya, a liquor and aviation tycoon, over unpaid loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman and co-owner of the Force India Formula One team moved to Britain in March a year ago.

India's government is trying to reduce the crippling debts of the country's embattled state banks, including PNB. It is alleged that Nirav Modi and others had cheated PNB in connivance with certain bank officials by getting LOUs issued fraudulently without following due procedure, making the bank incur a huge loss.

An Indian government statement said that Shri Kiren Rijiju, deputy interior minister, told on Monday his visiting British counterpart Susan Williams that Britain "should not be viewed as a safe haven for men wanted by the law".

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