Investigators confirm whereabouts
Based on inputs gathered through intelligence sources, investigating agencies have confirmed that fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who is wanted in connection with the ₹13,578-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud cases, is still in Hong Kong and his whereabouts have been established.
India has already sent a request to Hong Kong’s Department of Justice seeking the fugitive’s provisional arrest, citing the cases registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, and the non-bailable warrant issued against him by the competent Indian court.
However, as recently stated by the Ministry of External Affairs, the Hong Kong authorities are still examining India’s request and are yet to respond. The request for Mr. Nirav Modi’s provisional arrest has been made under the Agreement for the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders with the Hong Kong government.
While the agreement, which came into force in November 1997, deals primarily with the extradition of accused persons or convicts on various counts, its Article 10 provides for provisional arrests necessitated by urgent circumstances.
The agencies suspect that Mr. Nirav Modi may attempt to flee Hong Kong. In his previous communications to the probing teams, he did not disclose his whereabouts.
The provisional-arrest request has to indicate an intention to request for the surrender of the accused. Such an arrest remains valid for only 60 days, during which the request of surrender should also be made. Such requests can be made for a range of offences, including money laundering and fraud, of which Mr. Nirav Modi has been accused.
The last time India secured an extradition from Hong Kong was that of Ashok Tahilram Sadarangani on June 6, 2004. The accused had fled the country in 2001 after cheating the Union Bank of India and the Bank of Maharashtra of ₹8.5 crore, after which an Interpol Red Corner Notice was issued against him on India’s request. Mr. Sadarangani was facing legal action in two cases registered by the CBI and the Mumbai Police. After his whereabouts were ascertained, as requested, the Hong Kong authorities placed him under provisional arrest.