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Indian jeweller accused of multi-billion dollar fraud flees

12 June 2018

Modi, whose celebrity clients have included actress Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet, is accused of involvement in a $1.8 billion scam against Punjab National Bank (PNB), India's second-largest state-run lender.

The confirmation that Nirav Modi is in the United Kingdom comes hours after global business daily Financial Times, citing Indian and British governments, reported that the billionaire jeweller is in London where he is trying to claim asylum from what he calls "political persecution". The CBI has since said it is not aware of his whereabouts, a line its officers repeated on Monday. Modi could not be reached for comment while Britain's Home Office told Reuters that it does not comment on individual cases.

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The development came just as the Central Bureau of Investigation, which probing the multi-crore fraud case, moved the Interpol seeking a red corner notice against Modi and his jeweller uncle Mehul Choksi, who is also a prime accused in the case.

India has requested an worldwide arrest warrant for fugitive billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, federal police said Monday hours after reports claimed he had sought asylum in Britain. Besides, India has also made it clear that it will accept those Indians whose Indian nationality is established after verification within a fortnight. Authorities say he diverted large sums of the loan money illegally to invest in foreign-based companies.

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Modi, the third generation of his family to go into the diamond trade, is worth $1.73 billion according to Forbes, placing him 85th on India's rich list.

It recently announced a $32-billion recapitalisation plan to help them clean up their books ahead of the general election in 2019.

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About two weeks ago, India asked the United Kingdom to expedite the extradition process of two economic offenders - fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya and former Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi - both of whom are now in London. It is alleged that Nirav Modi and others had cheated PNB in connivance with certain bank officials by getting LOUs issued fraudulently without following due procedure, making the bank incur a huge loss. "She has agreed to our request in giving full cooperation on Vijay Mallaya or Nirav Modi [issue]".

Indian jeweller accused of multi-billion dollar fraud flees