Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi on Friday failed in his second attempt to get bail in his extradition case at Westminster Magistrates' Court here despite his defence team vehemently trying to establish his close ties to the UK, including having to care for a pet dog.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot declined the bail application of the 48-year-old prime accused in the USD 1-2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case on the grounds that he did pose a "substantial" flight risk and that he lacked "community ties" with the UK.
Clare Montgomery, Modi's barrister, made a series of offers to try and convince the judge to grant bail.
"He did have a son at Charterhouse, a school in London, who has now gone to university in the States and as a sign of ageing parents, led Modi to get a dog instead. None of these actions are emblematic of someone setting out to flee the country. It is nonsense to say that he is a flight risk", Montgomery claimed.
'He does not have a safe haven open to him and he has not travelled or applied for citizenship elsewhere he only qualifies for leave to remain in this country', she added.
But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, stressed that Modi posed a significant flight risk and was also likely to further intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence if he were released.
Judge Arbuthnot accepted the Indian government's arguments, noting the very unusual evidence she had seen at this early stage in the case of interference with witnesses and destruction evidence in the form of mobile phones and a server.
Montgomery, who along with Anand Doobay of Boutique Law makes up a very similar defence team as that of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case against India, told the court that her client was willing to put up 1 million pound as security doubling of the 500,000 pounds figure offered at the first bail hearing last week.
She also offered to submit to several "stringent conditions", including Modi wearing an electronic tag to be monitored regularly.
The tag was claimed to be even better than reporting to any police station but Modi was also willing to submit to even that requirement.
The Income Tax department on Tuesday evening auctioned the artworks owned by the absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi, for Rs 59.37 crore. Mr. Modi fled the country after duping state-run lender PNB of a whopping Rs 14,000 crore.
Of the gross proceeds, the department will get a net of Rs 54.84 crore, with the rest being the commission to the auction house Saffronart and the buyers’ premium.
This is the first time that a government department has sold artworks adopting the auction-route involving a professional art-house. The department had put up a total of 68 works for auction to recover Rs 97 crore from Mr. Modi.
An untitled work by the abstract artist VS Gaitonde fetched a winning bid of Rs 25.24 crore, including the buyer’s premium, which however, is lower than the Rs 29.3 crore his work had fetched in 2015, making it the most expensive bid for an artwork from the country ever.
The great Raja Ravi Varma’s 1881 work depicting the Maharaja of Travancore and his younger brother welcoming Richard Temple-Grenville, and Chandos, the third duke of Buckingham and the governor general of Madras, got sold for Rs 16.10 crore through a phone bid.
(With inputs from PTI)