UK court rejects Nirav's bail for 4th time over fears he would abscond
London: The UK High Court on Wednesday rejected Nirav Modi's bail application, his fourth attempt as the diamond merchant fights his extradition from Britain to India in the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.
In her judgment handed down at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Justice Ingrid Simler concluded there are "substantial grounds" to believe that the 48-year-old fugitive diamantaire would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to "abscond".
Reiterating similar concerns as those raised by the lower court in the UK during previous bail hearings, Judge Simler ruled that after considering all the material "carefully", she had found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it can still occur.
"The applicant has access to considerable financial resources, supported by an increased [bail bond security] offer of 2 million pounds," the Judge noted. "It is difficult, in my judgement, to see how the UK is safe haven as there is no case of him being tried here There are still places in world one can escape to which are an even safer haven from Indian investigating authorities," she said, countering Modi's lawyers' assertion that he did not have any incentive to flee the UK as he sees it as a safe haven of justice. The judge concluded that it is "difficult to predict" how Modi would react to developments in the extradition process, raising a strong incentive of failure to surrender before the courts to avoid returning to India. She also accepted the Westminster Magistrates' Court concerns that the diamond merchant had been based in the UK for only a short period of time and had no significant ties to the country, making him a flight risk. Modi, who was not produced before the court for the latest bail hearing, remains in custody at Wandsworth prison in south-west London and is due to appear for his next remand hearing via videolink on June 27.
At the High Court bail hearing on Tuesday, Modi's legal team had repeated many of its assertions from previous three bail pleas before Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates' Court to claim that their client was not a substantial flight risk, as claimed by the Indian government.
"Modi is not (Wikileaks co-founder) Julian Assange who sought refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy, but just an ordinary Indian jeweller. There is no evidence to show that he would do the prohibitive things listed (such as interfere with witnesses)," said Clare Montgomery, Modi's barrister. PTI