London: Nirav Modi, wanted in India on fraud and money laundering charges amounting to nearly USD two billion, applied for bail Friday in the UK High Court, a day after a British court extended his remand till June 27.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition case, said that the hearing of Modi’s bail plea will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice here, June 11.
The 48-year-old, wanted by India to face charges of fraud and money laundering in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) case, has been denied bail at three previous attempts at Westminster Magistrates’ Court here, as the judge ruled there was ‘substantial risk’ that he would fail to surrender and deemed the bail security offered as insufficient.
“This is a large fraud and the doubling of security to two million pounds is not sufficient to cover a combination of concerns that he would fail to surrender,” Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled at the last bail hearing May 8.
After the rejection of the third application earlier this month, Modi had the automatic right to file an application in the higher court. “Mr Modi can appeal to the High Court as of right. He does not need leave to appeal,” a spokesperson said.
“He can apply at any time. Usually the person wishes to apply quickly so they can be released quickly if successful. There are many reasons they may wish to wait such as availability of counsel or if they think they can obtain new evidence to assist their application,” the spokesperson added.
Modi’s legal team has described their client’s experience at Wandsworth prison in south-west London as ‘damaging’ and had offered stringent electronic tag and other conditions akin to house arrest at his posh Centrepoint apartment in the West End of London in an attempt to persuade the judge.
“His experience in custody has been vivid and damaging… he is willing to abide by any bail conditions imposed by the court because Wandsworth is unliveable and makes the effective preparation of his case virtually impossible,” Modi’s barrister Clare Montgomery had told Judge Arbuthnot.
Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant from a Metro Bank branch in central London as he attempted to open a new bank account March 19 and has been in prison since.