Top five conclusions from emergencies that defeated Nirav Modi’s extradition appeal to UK courts – ThePrint
Bombay: The approval by the government of the United Kingdom (UK) of the extradition of fugitive jeweler Nirav Modi, the main accused in more than 12,000 crore rupees to the Punjab National Bank (PNB), is seen as a bullet in the arm for investigative agencies) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – in cases brought against him and other defendants three years ago.
At least five key investigative findings have been submitted to UK courts through the Crown Prosecution Service, which has helped India respond to its extradition request for Modi which it had challenged in UK courts.
“Crucial evidence” included ED’s detection of Modi’s attempt to acquire citizenship of another country, before the scam came to light in January 2014, to evade the law, thereby establishing him as a “ risk of leakage, ” sources familiar with the investigations told ThePrint. .
In addition, the CBI had presented “voluminous oral and documentary evidence to support charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal misconduct of officials, destruction of evidence and criminal intimidation of evidence” , said an agency source.
The two agencies have, since January 2018, provided evidence in the form of case files, testimonies and cell phone details against Modi, convincing the court and UK authorities that Modi has a case to answer in India on charges. fraud and money laundering.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel’s approval for Modi’s extradition on Thursday came two months after the Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruling. In February, District Judge Sam Goozee said Modi had a case to answer in Indian courts and that extradition bans under UK law did not apply in his case.
Also read: Nirav Modi may be extradited to India, has a case to answer in PNB scam, finds UK court
Honorary Citizenship of Vanuatu
ED’s investigation, which began in February 2018 to examine money laundering charges, found that Modi allegedly paid for the acquisition of honorary citizenship of Vanuatu at the end of 2017, but authorities in immigration officials rejected his request after an exercise undertaken by them had yielded unfavorable results. against him.
“Vanuatu immigration authorities confirmed to ED that Nirav attempted to acquire his citizenship. He later fled India by plane on January 1, 2018, weeks before the scam was detected, and eventually traveled to the UK to go into hiding. Evidence linked to Modi’s attempt in Vanuatu helped India establish in UK courts that he was at risk of absconding, ”a source from the agency said.
ED also submitted evidence to UK courts hearing Modi’s extradition appeal showing that he allegedly held a business visa, a work visa, a Schengen visa, a residence visa from seven countries including states United Kingdom, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Canada.
ED said three Modi companies – Solar Exports, Stellar Diamonds and Diamonds R US – had secured funds worth Rs 6,498 crore, despite being ineligible, via Letters of Commitment (LoU) from the PNB branch. at Mumbai Brady House.
Like Modi, his uncle and fugitive jeweler Mehul Choksi, who is accused in the PNB fraud case, also left India in January 2018. Choksi is accused of defrauding the PNB of Rs 6,097 crore.
On January 31, 2018, the CBI had registered a case against Modi, his companies, their partners and others, including then officials of PNB, over a complaint by the bank that the defendants had hatched a criminal conspiracy between them to defraud the public sector bank. by fraudulent issuance of LoU.
“The CBI investigation showed that a few accused PNB officials, in a conspiracy with the accused companies, had fraudulently issued a large number of LoUs to foreign banks to obtain buyer’s credit in favor of the accused companies without any sanctioned limit or margin. cash flow and without making any entries into the bank’s system, ”the CBI source said.
Interpol had issued red corner notices against Modi and Choksi at India’s request. CBI and ED have accused Modi, Choksi, their accused companies and others in the case. India has also requested the extradition of Choksi, who had acquired citizenship of the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda before the scam was discovered.
Also read: ‘Astonishing, extremely insensitive’ – what UK court said about Katju comparing BJP government to Hitler
“ Attempts to detain false directors ”
The Law Enforcement Branch and the CBI had also submitted to the UK courts evidence relating to Modi’s alleged use of persuasive powers and the sequestration of a few bogus directors of his shell companies overseas, for dissuade them from returning to India after the investigation began in January 2018. The LOU funds illegally drawn from the bank had been diverted to these shell companies.
ED sources said the arrest of the bogus directors could reveal secrets about one of the biggest frauds in India’s banking industry. Modi allegedly tried to convince them that they would be arrested and their property seized if they returned home. The statements of some of these directors who became witnesses were recorded by the ED investigation.
These dummy directors first met in Dubai, then flew to Cairo to be temporarily confined there against their will. The full cost, including the plane ticket, would have been borne by Modi, according to ED sources.
During the period of their forced stay, the passports of these fictitious directors were reportedly taken away. They were ultimately only allowed to return after a lot of cajoling and persuasion – and that too only two at a time and after the alleged signing of a few documents, according to ED sources.
ED’s investigation also revealed that the phones of the fictitious directors were reportedly destroyed. One of the fictitious directors, who became a witness, claimed that during his stay in Egypt he had received threats. He alleged that he was told that if he did not accept Rs 20 lakh and made a false statement to thwart the investigation, he would be killed.
“ Bank funds have been siphoned off ”
ED’s investigation also gathered evidence showing that the companies accused of Modi have allegedly siphoned off a substantial portion of the funds obtained from the bank through payments to 17 foreign shell entities in Hong Kong, Dubai and the United States since 2011 under covered in questionable exports / imports, in addition to using them to offset previous LOUs. ED’s investigation found that the directors and shareholders of the shell company were bogus directors and were employees or former employees of the Firestar group of companies, who allegedly worked on instructions from Modi and his representatives of trust.
Statements from various fictitious directors and associated persons revealed that they were mechanically transferring property and money as directed by Modi without any economic justification and logic. The ED source said: “ED discovered that the alleged embezzlement of the proceeds of crime in the amount of $ 629.21 million was attributed to several group companies, relatives and other bogus companies under their authority. control.”
Also read: A billionaire from nowhere: the over-ambitious journey of diamond tycoon Nirav Modi
‘Bank funds used to obtain assets’
The investigation also gathered evidence to establish that Modi allegedly used the proceeds of funds taken from the bank to purchase real estate assets abroad. This was done through a maze of transactions to obscure the investigation and to cover up traces of money laundering. However, the investigation obtained foreign bank accounts and financial statements from various foreign fictitious entities to track these transactions, the sources said.
Sources cited the example of real estate in the United States allegedly obtained by Modi in 2017 for $ 25 million, using bank funds. The property was purchased in the name of a trust, Ithaca Trust, using funds that ED traced that would be owned by a Dubai shell company – Fine Classic, FZE – controlled by a relative of Modi.
“Fine Classic, FZE had received funds from certain fake Nirav Modi companies, based in Dubai and Hong Kong, which were the recipients of fraudulent LOUs illegally obtained from PNB,” according to one of the ED sources.
“ Attempts to destroy the material probative value ”
The inquiries also chronicled alleged attempts by Modi and his associates to destroy evidentiary value in the case, which in turn reinforced the arguments against the accused, sources said. “After the case broke, an associate of Nirav Modi had the secure server located in the UAE destroyed. Thanks to this server, the defendants and others used to communicate secretly with their close collaborators, ”added the source.
“Printouts of some of the incriminating electronic communications from this secret server were obtained from Dubai. Apart from that, the probe could recover some bank tokens from foreign fake companies through which fraudulent funds were transferred, ”the source added.
A team, consisting of Satyabrata Kumar, joint director of ED Mumbai and a senior CBI officer, traveled to London nine times to coordinate with the CPS to lobby for Modi’s extradition.
Modi, 50, imprisoned at Wandsworth Prison in London since March 19, 2019, has 14 days to seek leave to appeal the UK Home Secretary’s order to the High Court in London.
Also read: Did not defend Nirav Modi, appeared in UK court as expert, says former HC Thipsay judge
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