PNB Fraud Case: Nirav Modi’s Jail Term Extended, Extradition Trial In May 2020
Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, wanted in India in connection with the nearly $2 billion PNB fraud case, was on Thursday remanded to judicial custody till August 22, when he will appear once again via videolink from his London prison cell.
On Thursday, Westminster Magistrates' Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot presided over Nirav Modi's routine appearance via videolink, during which she indicated that a five-day extradition trial will take place in May 2020.
The exact date has to be agreed upon by all parties.
"You would like it to be sooner rather than later, I presume. We will have a date for you by August 22, so you know what you are working towards," Judge Arbuthnot told 48-year-old Modi, who was dressed in a grey T-shirt and appeared quite cheerful.
He has been lodged in Wandsworth Prison in Southwest London since his arrest in March in connection with the PNB fraud case.
In light of the U.K.'s current heat wave, the judge said, in a good humoured way, that she hoped it wasn't too hot for him in Wandsworth.
"Fine, thank you mam," said Nirav Modi, amid laughter.
Modi was represented in court by barrister Jessica Jones, who ran through some of the “directions” agreed between the diamond merchant's defence team and the Crown Prosecution Service, which is arguing on behalf of the Indian government.
According to the timelines discussed during the brief hearing, the judge said she expected to receive all the evidence and skeleton argument bundles in Nirav Modi’s extradition case by April 8, with a five-day hearing then expected to be slotted in May next year. There are likely to be a number of case management hearings ahead of that but meanwhile a planned case management hearing for next Monday was vacated as not required.
"The Indian government have made arrangements to attend Monday's hearing so we would like it to go ahead," said CPS barrister Hannah Burton, but the judge overruled that saying it would not be necessary in light of the pre-agreed directions and the court has a "lot going on".
Under U.K. law, Nirav Modi is expected to be produced before the court every four weeks. The 48-year-old has had his bail rejected four times.
Nirav Modi was arrested by uniformed Scotland Yard officers on an extradition warrant on March 19 and has been in prison since. During subsequent hearings, Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that Nirav Modi was the "principal beneficiary" of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.