London: Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi would make another bail plea May 8 at the UK court where he is undergoing extradition proceedings to India in the USD one-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.
The 48-year-old, who has been behind bars at Wandsworth prison in south-west London since his two previous bail applications were rejected, is to appear before Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates’ Court here May 8 for a third attempt.
“The next hearing will be on 8 May. The application for bail will be heard before Judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates’ Court,” said a spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is representing the Indian authorities in the extradition case.
Barrister Nick Hearn from Furnival Chambers will represent the CPS at the bail hearing, while Nirav will be represented by Clare Montgomery of Matrix Chambers.
At the last hearing in the case April 26, when Nirav had appeared before Judge Arbuthnot via videolink from prison, his legal team had made no application for bail and he was further remanded in judicial custody until May 24. While his two previous bail pleas have been rejected on the grounds that there was a ‘substantial risk he would fail to surrender’, he can make a third application if there is a considerable change in circumstances.
Nirav is reportedly relying on ‘new evidence’ and will seek to persuade the judge that this constitutes a change of circumstances so that he can be permitted to make another bail application next Wednesday.
His legal team, led by solicitor Anand Doobay, has previously offered one million pounds as security alongside an offer to meet stringent electronic tag restrictions on their client’s movements, ‘akin to house arrest’. It remains to be seen how they plan to bolster the application for a third attempt before the same court.
“This is a case of substantial fraud, with loss to a bank in India of between USD 1-2 billion. I am not persuaded that the conditional bail sought will meet the concerns of the government of India in this case,” Judge Arbuthnot had said, when rejecting Nirav’s last bail attempt.
Judge Arbuthnot had also noted that ‘very unusually in a fraud case’ the accused had made death threats to witnesses and also attempted to destroy evidence in the case. The diamond dealer’s ‘lack of community ties’ in the UK and an attempt to acquire the citizenship of Vanuatu in late 2017 went against him as the judge said it seemed like he was trying to ‘move away from India at an important time’.
Nirav was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers in central London, March 19.