Wednesday 27 March 2019 3:22 AM UTC
LONDON March 27: Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges amounting to $2 billion, is set to appear before Westminster Magistrates Court in London on Friday, when his legal team will make a second bail application.
The 48-year-old had been denied bail by district judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing soon after his arrest by Scotland Yard officers from a central London bank branch as he tried to open a new bank account and has been in custody at HMP Wandsworth prison in south-west London since last Wednesday.
“He is expected to be produced before the court for a second bail application hearing on March 29,” a court official confirmed on Tuesday.
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) barrister Jonathan Swain, arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, had objected to Modi’s bail plea during last week’s hearing, stressing that he was wanted in India for “high value and sophisticated” fraud and money laundering amounting to $2 billion.
Judge Mallon had ruled in favour of the Indian authorities, saying she was convinced Modi had the means and incentive to jump bail and “fail to surrender”.
The next hearing is expected to be presided over by chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, the judge who ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya to India last December.
“Further to the Mallya case, India now has a template to refer to when dealing with the extradition procedure of Nirav Modi from the UK,” said Sarosh Zaiwalla, founder and senior partner at UK-based law firm Zaiwalla & Co.
Describing him as the “opposite of a flight risk” during the first bail application hearing last week, Modi’s defence team had offered 500,000 pounds as security and also submitted to any stringent conditions that may be imposed upon their client.
It remains to be seen how they would further bolster that offer in order to convince the judge to grant bail during the second hearing, following which the case will proceed to a series of case management hearings and setting of a trial date.
During Modi’s first court appearance after his arrest last week, it emerged that the diamantaire accused of defrauding India’s state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) via fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) had been working on building up his legal team against extradition proceedings since March last year.
In July 2018, once India sent their extradition request to the UK Home Office, he hired Boutique Law – a specialist law firm specialising in extradition.
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