Nirav Modi ‘Threatened to Kill’ Witness: Prosecution in Court
PNB scam accused Nirav Modi “threatened to kill” a witness and destroyed evidence, the prosecution alleged during the second bail plea hearing of the fugitive diamantaire in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Friday, 29 March.
Modi’s bail plea application was eventually rejected and 26 April was fixed as the next date of hearing.
Giving details of Modi’s attempt to interfere with the witnesses, Toby Cadman, acting on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service (who are representing Indian) said Nirav Modi “threatened to kill” Ashish Lad in a phone call and also offered him an incentive of Rs 2 million to provide a false statement.
Nilesh Mistry and three other witnesses were similarly targeted by Nirav Modi and mobile phones and a server holding “material critical to the fraud” were destroyed, raising fears of further “destroying of evidence” if bail was granted, the court was told.
Click here to get all the live updates on Nirav Modi’s extradition here.
Cadman also said that giving bail to Modi posed a “substantial risk” that the prime accused in the bank fraud would flee.
The court was also told about Modi’s attempt to attain citizenship in jurisdictions less likely to be willing to extradite him to India, including Vanuatu at the end of 2017 on the basis of a USD 2,00,000 investment.
Modi’s Defence Denies Death Threat, ‘Flight Risk’ Claims
Modi’s defence team, led by barrister Clare Montgomery – who was also the barrister for former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case – opposed the claims of Modi being a “flight risk” and stressed that in fact Modi sees UK as a “haven where his case will be fairly considered”.
“The size and nature of these allegations is not a safe touchstone by which you can judge if he should be granted bail,” said Montgomery, who claimed a series of “underlying issues” were behind PNB withdrawing insecure lending.
Nirav Modi Maybe Held in Arthur Road Jail
Judge Arbuthnot has been told by the prosecution that Modi would be extradited to Mumbai and that he may in fact be held in the same Arthur Road Jail as that prepared for Mallya, to which the judge said in a light-hearted vein that it could even be the same cell as we know “there is space” from the previous video submitted during Mallya extradition trial.
In a throwback to the Mallya trial, Montgomery raised the issue of the state of the paperwork submitted by the Indian authorities, claiming it “made her cry” at one stage. The judge concurred with her and was very firm about proper indexing of all documents to be submitted to the court in relation to the case.
Cadman assured the court that the “point had been conveyed” to the Indian authorities.
A three-member joint Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) team from India was present in court and handed over a new file of evidence which was reviewed by the judge before the hearing.
(With inputs from PTI)