Diamond tycoon fails in third UK bail attempt as assets frozen

Image from Nirav Modi’s Facebook page.

A London judge rejected fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi’s third attempt to get bail, after his lawyer said that Indian authorities have seized or liquidated the equivalent of $860 million of his funds and he doesn’t have access to enough resources to flee.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that even though Modi was willing to double his proposed security to 2 million pounds ($2.6 million), the risk of interfering with witnesses and destroying evidence remained too high. He had also only moved to the U.K. in 2017, so lacked the kind of community ties that would make him more likely to stay while he awaits a decision on whether he should be extradited to India, Arbuthnot said Wednesday.

“I still have substantial grounds to find that he will refuse arrest and interfere with witnesses,” Arbuthnot said. “He has access to resources.”

Arbuthnot rejected bail for Modi twice before since his March 19 arrest by U.K. police at the request of Indian authorities. The tycoon, who dressed stars including Kate Winslet, Dakota Johnson and Priyanka Chopra, faces charges of fraudulently acquiring guarantees from Punjab National Bank that were later used to obtain loans from abroad, according to complaints filed by the lender.

Arbuthnot said Modi had destroyed phones and servers, was telling a witness what to say and luring others to Egypt to influence them with the help of associates.

Modi’s lawyer, Clare Montgomery, had told the judge that her client’s funds in India were frozen or liquidated. Montgomery went on to say that Modi, who looked on from the dock, had not threatened a potential witness, as claimed by the Indian government.

“Central parts of the claims made by the government of India are false,” Montgomery said. “Their efforts to describe him as a diabolical maniac or as a cold-blooded and hardened criminal are proven to be false.”

(By Franz Wild)

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