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May 8, 2024

UK Court Denies Nirav Modi Bail, Citing ‘Substantial’ Flight Risk: Fraud Case Update

Fugitive businessman Nirav Modi’s latest attempt to secure bail in the UK has been denied by a judge, who cited concerns over his potential flight from justice. Modi, who has been incarcerated in London for over five years, faced rejection of his bail application due to the judge’s ruling that he remains a “substantial risk” of absconding trial.

At Westminster Magistrates Court in London, District Judge John Zani refused Modi’s bail, noting the significant time lapse since his last application three and a half years ago. Despite his absence from the hearing, Modi’s son and two daughters were present in the gallery.

Judge Zani emphasized the gravity of the fraud and money laundering charges against Modi, stating that the case involved substantial allegations that warranted denial of bail. He further expressed concerns that Modi might interfere with witnesses or fail to attend court proceedings if granted bail.

The court learned that while Modi had lost his extradition battle to India, there were ongoing confidential proceedings initiated by him, possibly indicating an asylum application. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) representing Indian authorities dismissed the notion that the UK Home Secretary might never be able to order extradition, emphasizing Modi’s determination to avoid facing charges in Indian courts.

Nicholas Hearn, representing the CPS, highlighted the scale of the alleged fraud, exceeding USD 1 billion, with only a fraction of the funds seized. The presence of a joint Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) team from India underscored the seriousness of the case.

Modi’s prolonged detention and legal battles were argued to be unjust by his barrister, Edward Fitzgerald. Despite offering strict conditions for bail, including electronic monitoring and restricted travel, Modi’s bail plea was rejected.

Fitzgerald pointed out the impact of Modi’s detention on his mental health, citing depression and suicide risk exacerbated by his incarceration. However, the judge noted that while Modi had not been convicted of any crime yet, he remained central to the fraud allegations.

The defence raised concerns about Modi’s safety, alleging threats from Indian intelligence agents. They argued that his presence in the UK was essential for his safety, especially considering his daughter’s admission to study in the country and the ability of his other children to visit from New York.

The court dismissed reports of Modi’s attempts to invest in acquiring citizenship elsewhere, arguing that he would not be safe from extradition anywhere other than the UK.

In conclusion, despite various arguments presented by Modi’s legal team, the UK court’s decision reflects the seriousness of the allegations against him and the risk of flight from justice. The case continues to attract attention globally as extradition proceedings unfold.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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