By Hitesh Tikoo
London, Sep 7 (IANS) The long-awaited extradition trial of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi is set to resume on Monday in a UK court.
Nirav Modi, who has been lodged at the Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March 2019, will appear before court via video-link for the second phase of his extradition trial.
The second phase of the hearings are expected to complete arguments on establishing a prima facie case against the 49-year-old fugitive and also deal with the additional extradition request made by the Indian authorities and certified by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel earlier this year.
He faces additional charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or “criminal intimidation to cause death” against him.
Additional hearings have also been scheduled for November 3, for the judge to rule on the admissibility of evidence presented before him.
Both sides will make their final submissions on December 1.
Nirav Modi’s defence team has also raised concerns about his “deteriorating” mental health in Wandsworth, one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, as among a number of “additional issues” it is likely to raise.
The charges against the fugitive merchant centre around his firms Diamonds R Us, Stellar Diamonds and Solar Exports making fraudulent use of a credit facility offered by the Punjab National Bank (PNB), known as “letters of undertaking” (LoUs).
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, sought to establish that a number of PNB staff conspired with Nirav Modi to ensure LoUs.
The letters of undertaking (LoUs) were issued to his companies without required credit checks, without recording the issuance of the LoUs and without charging the required commission upon the transactions.
This resulted in a fraud amounting to nearly $2 billion.
Nirav Modi’s team has sought to counter allegations of fraud by deposing witnesses to establish the volatility of the gems trade and that the LoUs were standard practice.