UK court further remands Nirav Modi in custody till May 24

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi was Friday further remanded into custody till May 24 by a UK court hearing his extradition case in the USD 1-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

The 48-year-old, who has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his arrest last month, appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot via videolink from the jail.

Dressed in a beige and black sweater and looking slightly less dishevelled than his last appearance in person before the court in March, Modi spoke only to confirm his name.

“Mr Modi, you will be back for another short hearing via videolink on May 24, with a full hearing in the case planned for May 30 when you will be produced in person,” Judge Arbuthnot told the diamantaire.

She asked his barrister Jessica Jones if there were any matters to be considered and was told there were none, which confirmed that Modi’s team did not file another bail application before the court.

The May 24 hearing will be another procedural one, to meet the 28-day timeline for judicial custody in such cases in the UK. The case will then proceed to a full case management hearing, scheduled for May 30 so far, when Modi will be produced in person.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, was represented by barrister Nilofar Bawla at Friday’s hearing, which followed a second bail application being rejected by Judge Arbuthnot on March 29 on the grounds that there was a “substantial risk he would fail to surrender”.

“This is a case of substantial fraud, with loss to a bank in India of between USD 1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case,” Judge Arbuthnot had noted in her ruling.

Modi’s legal team could have made a third bail application at the court on Friday but only if the grounds for the bail plea are substantially different. The CPS has previously confirmed that Modi intends to appeal against the rejection of bail in the UK High Court. However, such an application has not been logged so far.

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