Fugitive diamond magnate Nirav Modi arrested

Nirav Modi at his office in Mumbai India in 2016

British police arrested the 48-year-old at the request of Indian authorities, who want to extradite him to face trial over a $1.8-billion (€1.59-billion) loan fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB). This month, Britain's Daily Telegraph said it had tracked him down to a luxury apartment in London's Centre Point tower.

A demonstrator holds an effigy depicting billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi during a protest in Kolkata, India, February 18, 2018.

"He very strongly contests the allegations", Modi's lawyer, George Hepburne Scott, told the judge.

In her decision to turn down Modi's bail plea, the judge noted that he possessed the "means" to acquire further travel documents and therefore there are "substantial grounds" to believe he may not surrender before the court if granted bail.

He was denied bail and will stay in custody until the next hearing on March 29. "He is in possession of a wealth of material in support of his case and intends to make comprehensive arguments against the allegations, including that of political motivation and human rights", Scott noted.

Following the news, India's Enforcement Directorate (ED) tweeted that the home office of the U.K. Central Authority had sent an extradition request to the Westminster Magistrates Court.

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Police in India later raided the homes and offices of Modi and business partner Mehul Choksi, seizing almost US$800 million in jewels and gold.

Meanwhile, a Mumbai court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Modi's wife Amy whose last known location was in the US.

Nirav Modi has been wanted for duping the Punjab National Bank of over Rs 13,500 crore.

Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry, said he welcomed the news of Modi's arrest. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India continues to follow this matter with the United Kingdom to extradite Modi.

Another Indian mogul accused of defrauding banks, Vijay Mallya, is awaiting extradition from the UK. The CBI and the ED have now got a shot in the arm with Modi's arrest and the work has now begun to lay hands on him.

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