A UK High Court on Wednesday denied bail to fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi. Rejecting his bail plea for the fourth time, the court said it has evidence that Nirav Modi might obstruct the probe.
The judge observed that there was compelling evidence that Nirav Modi, if granted bail, may tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses. “Compelling evidence that applicant and those acting on his behalf have acted to influence witnesses. There is evidence of destruction of evidence. Interference and obstruction may occur,” the judge said on Wednesday.
The judge while pronouncing the order of observed that, “It seems that he [Nirav Modi] has means to access funds. It is difficult for me to see why the UK should be a safe haven for him to escape extradition. There are still places in the world that one can move to which be even safe havens to escape extradition. I feel applicant would fail to surrender.”
The judge said, “I am satisfied that there is evidence of destruction of evidence.”
On Indian agencies accusing Nirav Modi of destroying mobile phones and data in discs by putting them inside blast furnace, the judge said, “I can see no possible legitimate reason that the offer will be honoured to repay in India, although, I agree with Montgomery. There is a discrepancy in statements of directors. The government of India has in good faith acted to contain fraud in the International circuit.”
Modi’s lawyer, however, said as for destruction of evidence was concerned, there was no evidence in phones which may have been destroyed.
The UK High Court on Tuesday had heard Nirav Modi’s appeal against a lower court’s order to deny him bail as he fights his extradition from Britain to India in the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.
Modi’s legal team had earlier repeated many of its assertions from previous three bail pleas before Westminster Magistrates’ Court to claim that the 48-year-old diamond merchant did not pose a “substantial” flight risk, as claimed by the Indian government.
“Modi is not (Wikileaks c-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],” Modi’s barrister had said.
Nirav Modi has already been denied bail at three previous attempts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, as the judge ruled there was substantial risk that he would fail to surrender and deemed the bail security offered as insufficient.
NIrav Modi, who has remained behind bars in judicial custody since his arrest in March, had the automatic right to file an application in the higher court and did not require permission to appeal.
At the first case management hearing in the case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in May, the issue of bail was not raised and Modi was further remanded in judicial custody until June 27.