London: Nirav Modi, the fugitive diamond merchant wanted in India to stand trial on fraud and money laundering charges, has claimed that he has no funds and is resorting to borrowing money to pay the court-ordered legal costs amounting to more than 150,000 pounds. The 52-year-old former billionaire last year lost his legal battle in the highest UK court against being extradited to India in the estimated USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan scam case. But his case is now said to be ‘statute barred’, indicating further pending litigation. Meanwhile, Nirav remains behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, from where he appeared via videolink for a hearing at Barkingside Magistrates’ Court in east London on Thursday over unpaid legal costs, or fines, of 150,247 pounds ordered by the High Court in London, related to his extradition appeal proceedings.
According to officials, the magistrates at a procedural hearing for court fines granted his plea to be allowed to pay 10,000 pounds a month before a review hearing to take place in six months. On being asked how he intended to finance the monthly amount, Nirav told the court he had been borrowing money as he did not have sufficient funds because his assets had been frozen in India over the extradition proceedings.
In December last year, a two-judge bench in the Royal Courts of Justice in London refused Nirav Modi’s application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on suicide risk grounds and also refused his application to certify a point of law, which concluded his extradition appeal options in the UK courts.
This case may be subject to further litigation, UK Home Office sources have said, which is likely to indicate a parallel confidential political asylum appeals process.
In a final extradition appeal hearing in the case in the London High Court in November 2022, Justices Jeremy Stuart-Smith and Justice Robert Jay ruled that they were “far from satisfied that Mr Modi’s mental condition and the risk of suicide are such that it would be either unjust or oppressive to extradite him”.
Their verdict also accepted that the government of India will treat its assurances on Nirav’s medical care after being extradited and held at Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai with ‘appropriate seriousness’.
The dismissal of the appeal came three years after Nirav Modi was arrested in March 2019 on an extradition warrant based on Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) charges against the businessman.
There are three sets of criminal proceedings against the diamantaire in India ‘the CBI case of fraud on the PNB which caused losses equivalent to over 700 million pounds, the ED case relating to the alleged laundering of the proceeds of that fraud and a third set of criminal proceedings involving alleged interference with evidence and witnesses in the CBI proceedings.
Then UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had ordered Nirav’s extradition based on Judge Sam Goozee’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruling in April 2021.