In a major development in Nirav Modi's fourth bail plea, on Wednesday, the UK High Court has denied bail to the Indian economic fugitive Nirav Modi. The hearing for his bail plea was held on Tuesday with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) representing Indian Government and barrister Clare Montgomery representing Modi who is fighting against a lower court's order to deny him bail as he fights his extradition from Britain to India in the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case. After hearing arguments, Judge Ingrid Simler had reserved the verdict for Wednesday at 10 AM GMT.
On Wednesday, the Judge announced her verdict denying bail saying:
"Events leading to his (Modi) arrest and charges are set in detail. There is a significant dispute between the parties. In short the applicant is accused of fraud and money laundering in a number of countries. While there is a presumption in favour of bail for person facing extradition, I cannot at this stage resolve any dispute.”
Countering Montgomery's claim of no interference in influencing witnesses, the judge said that interference and obstruction may occur adding that the extradition hearing will be held in the next few months.
"I have considered the evidence carefully and do not accept that it is consistent with compelling evidence that the applicant and those acting on his behalf have acted to influence witnesses. Interference and obstruction may occur. Extradition hearing likely in next few months where witnesses will be heard," she said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the judge had reserved the verdict after listening to arguments from both sides.
Arguing for the Indian Government the CPS had made the argument that Modi has been making offers of cash securities to get bail which started from £500,000 which has now gone up to £2 million and had said that Modi should not be given bail at this time as he faces serious charges.
The CPS has also said that if Modi is given bail, it’s possible that evidence can be tampered with.
Countering the CPS, Montgomery who represents Modi had argued that the case made by CPS that he would escape is feeble as white collar crimes have low escape rate adding that his accounts are frozen in Switzerland and elsewhere as after the collapse of 'Firestar', most group assets are held by office holders.
"The reality is that he is not the cold-blooded hardened criminal as claimed by the government of India but a jewellery designer from a long line of diamond dealers, and regarded as being honest careful and reliable," added Montogomery.
She had further argued that the case originally presented in the Westminster that Modi would interfere with witnesses he has detained in Cairo was countered as there was no plan to harm anyone in Cairo. She also suggested that they (witnesses in Cairo) were staying there on their own will.
The 48-year-old, wanted by India to face charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to nearly USD 2 billion in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) case, has been denied bail at three previous attempts at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, as the judge ruled there was "substantial risk" that he would fail to surrender and deemed the bail security offered as insufficient.
Nirav Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant from a Metro Bank branch in central London on March 19 and has been in prison since.
During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that Modi was the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.