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Saturday 25 January 2020

Nirav declared 2nd fugitive economic offender

The disgraced diamantaire, fighting his extradition case in England, was further remanded, unable to convince the court he wouldn't intimidate witnesses

PNB scam accused Nirav Modi (48) was declared a fugitive economic offender by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Thursday. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed a petition against Nirav. Nirav has been declared the second fugitive of the country under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

In January, the PMLA court had declared liquor baron Vijay Mallya as a fugitive.

Nirav, accused in the Rs 13,700 crore PNB scam, is in London’s Wandsworth Jail. London police arrested him on 19 March after the extradition warrant was issued on India’s appeal. His bail application has been rejected 5 times. Indian agencies are trying to extradite him.

Fugitive economic criminal law applied to Nirav

Those who refuse to pay the financial scam tax can be prosecuted under this law.

In economic offences, there is a provision for action against those against whom an arrest warrant has been issued.

Such loan defaulters who have fled abroad for more than Rs 100 crore can be processed.

There is a provision to compensate the debtors by selling the properties of fugitive economic offenders.

According to the law, in order to declare an accused as a fugitive economic offender, the concerned agency has to petition in the special court. Sufficient evidence against the accused along with details of his address and whereabouts are also included.

A list of forfeited benami assets and foreign assets has to be given. It also includes information about other people associated with the properties.

After receiving the application, the special court also issues a notice to the accused to appear within six weeks.

Meanwhile, on 4 December (GMT), Modi in England, fighting extradition to India, was further remanded in custody during a hearing and asked to appear via videolink on 2 January. The diamantaire appeared for his regular 28-day “call-over” appearance from London’s Wandsworth prison at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where Judge Gareth Branston reconfirmed that his extradition trial will begin on 11 May next year and will last five days.

On 2 January 2020, Modi will appear before the court via videolink while also ensuring he appears before the court every 28 days.

The 48-year-old had moved yet another bail application last month with an “unprecedented” house arrest guarantee. This is normally imposed on terror suspects. He cited mental health issues developed behind the bars at the Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March.

But the bail plea was rejected by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot as she apprehended he would intimidate witnesses and fail to surrender before the court for his extradition trial in May 2020.

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