Fri 31 January 2020:

Nirav Modi has been detained for nearly a year over bank fraud case

The detained diamond tycoon Nirav Modi will face a full extradition hearing in London in May as he fights attempts by India to put him on trial for the country’s largest banking fraud.

Mr Modi, 48, was arrested in March last year in the UK capital after fleeing India where he was wanted over a near $2 billion money laundering and fraud operation connected to Punjab National Bank.

Mr Modi appeared via videolink from a south London prison for a routine court hearing on Thursday as lawyers prepare for a five-day extradition hearing that is due to start on May 11, officials said.

The businessman has made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to secure bail since he was tracked down by a British newspaper to a luxury apartment block in central London.

The jeweller, who complained of being attacked inside prison because of his wealth, has exhausted all avenues to be released on bail and will remain behind bars until the hearing in May. A British judge said that efforts had been made by Mr Modi’s family to interfere with witnesses.

The jeweller spent 15 months on the run after he and his uncle were accused for fraudulently securing guarantees from the Punjab bank from corrupt staff in Mumbai that were then used to obtain loans from abroad.

The Indian government of Narendra Modi had come under pressure to act after more than 30 Indians linked to fraud cases fled abroad to try to avoid prosecution. Before his arrest, Forbes estimated Mr Modi’s wealth at $1.73 billion before the alleged fraud, putting him at 85th on India’s rich list.

The jeweller, part of a Belgium-based trading family, opened his first luxury boutique in New Delhi in 2014 before embarking on a global expansion that included a glitzy launch event in New York attended by Donald Trump jnr.

Mr Modi’s jewels have been worn by some of the world’s most famous women including actresses Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas.

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