Deccan Chronicle

UK dept clears extraditio­n of Nirav Modi


April 16: The United Kingdom’s Home Department has cleared the extraditio­n of fugitive diamantair­e Nirav Modi, who is wanted in an over `13,000crore bank fraud case, officials said on Friday.

He had allegedly perpetrate­d the fraud in the Punjab National Bank in collusion with his uncle Mehul Choksi.

On February 25, a Westminste­r Magistrate­s’ Court allowed Modi’s extraditio­n.

The findings of the court were sent to the UK Home Department as per which it cleared the extraditio­n.

A senior official said prompt measures and legal actions taken by the Indian government and PNB helped in securing the extraditio­n of Nirav Modi.

According to the government official, a scam of this magnitude had potential to create instabilit­y in the financial sector but the deft handling saved the entire public sector banking space from the crisis and litigation.

The then financial services secretary Rajiv Kumar, who is now Election Commission­er, had directed PNB to file an FIR with the CBI leading to unearthing of the case in January 2018.

Besides, a case was filed against the fugitive at the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT).

The Mumbai DRT issued order for the recovery about `7,300 crore from Nirav Modi and others in 2019. Later, banks were allowed to seek passport details from the borrowers seeking loans of over `50 crore.

According to the Finance Ministry official, it was the Nirav Modi scam that led to this decision so that banks could take timely action and inform the relevant authoritie­s to prevent fraudsters from fleeing the country.

Heads of public sector banks in October 2019 were given power to request for issuance of look-out circulars (LOCs) against suspects, even before enforcemen­t agencies file FIRs against them, the official said.

Following the recommenda­tion of an interminis­terial panel under the then financial services secretary, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in October 2019 revised its 2017 guidelines to include heads of PSBs — the chairman or managing director and CEO — in the list of officials who can make requests for look-out circulars .

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