London: Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, fighting his extradition to India on charges over the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money-laundering case, has filed another plea for bail to be heard by the High Court here Thursday.
The 49-year-old, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March last year and is scheduled for an extradition trial in May, is making his fifth attempt at getting bail on the basis of a change in circumstances.
However, Nirav had already appealed to the High Court last year and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, said it will be arguing that the latest application should be heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court level. “We think it should be heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and will be making that point,” a CPS spokesperson said.
“The bail application is regarding a change of circumstances. Nirav has increased the security and offered more stringent bail conditions than last time,” the spokesperson informed.
Last week, Modi appeared via videolink from his prison before Judge David Robinson at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court for his routine 28-day call-over remand hearing and was remanded in custody to appear again via videolink March 24.
Nirav has made three previous attempts for bail at the magistrates’ court offering two million pounds and then doubling that to four million pounds as security, rejected each time over fears that he would flee the country and fail to surrender before the court.
Meanwhile, the Royal Courts of Justice will hear his latest bail application and consider if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the previous appeal before the same court in June last year.
During the last High Court bail plea, Justice Ingrid Simler had concurred with Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot to conclude that there are ‘substantial grounds’ to believe that the diamond merchant would fail to surrender as he does possess the means to ‘abscond’. She had also found strong evidence to suggest there had been interference with witnesses and destruction of evidence in the case and concluded it can still occur.
Modi was arrested March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government. His extradition trial is scheduled between May 11 and 15 this year.