December 5, 2019
Nirav Modi has been declared a fugitive economic offender by a Mumbai court. He is the second person, after Vijay Mallya, to be charged under the anti-fraud law that was passed last year. Mr Modi is currently in Wandsworth Prison in London, from where he is fighting extradition on charges related to a nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) money-laundering and fraud case. He was remanded to extended custody at a hearing on Wednesday and asked to appear via video-link on January 2.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, designed to catch people who flee abroad after committing financial crimes, was signed into law by the President in August last year. It is aimed at stopping a growing number of high-profile economic offenders fleeing the country to avoid legal action.
According to the new law, a fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued for his or her involvement in economic offences involving at least Rs 100 crore or more and has left India to avoid prosecution.
Nirav Modi has been behind bars at Wandsworth, one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, since his arrest on March 19 on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.
During subsequent hearings, the UK court has been told that Nirav Modi was the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.
His extradition trial is scheduled between May 11 and 15 next year.