Priti Patel approves extradition of world’s most wanted billionaire

Charles Hymas
·2-min read
Mr Modi wearing a £10,000 ostrich hide jacket when confronted in the street by a Telegraph reporter in 2019 - Eddie Mulholland
Mr Modi wearing a £10,000 ostrich hide jacket when confronted in the street by a Telegraph reporter in 2019 - Eddie Mulholland

The world’s most wanted billionaire Nirav Modi has had his extradition to India approved by Priti Patel.

The Home Secretary ordered the extradition of the diamond tycoon after a British judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to send him back to India for trial.

He has been accused of money laundering and fraud over allegations that he embezzled more than $1 billion (£700 million) from the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Mr Modi was tracked down by The Telegraph after he went on the run. He was found living in a luxury apartment in a high rise block in London’s West End in March 2019.

Metropolitan Police arrested him days later as he tried to open a new bank account. A bank clerical worker, alerted by the publicity generated by The Telegraph, then called the police.

Mr Modi, 50, has remained in jail ever since, languishing in Wandsworth prison while extradition proceedings continued.

He now has two weeks to seek leave to appeal the decision in the High Court before he will be removed from the UK and returned to India.

His fall from grace – from diamond magnate whose jewellery was worn by a host of Hollywood and Bollywood stars, to prison inmate – has been spectacular.

He owned a string of homes and expensive cars, and ran a network of luxury jewellery stores, including one in Old Bond Street in Mayfair. When The Telegraph confronted him in the street, Mr Modi was wearing an ostrich-hide jacket worth £10,000.

However, the UK judge Samuel Goozee said officials with PNB had uncovered a “Ponzi-like” scheme, presided over by Mr Modi, in which he had secured billions of rupees in loans on the back of fraudulent bank guarantees on forein transactions, known as “letters of understanding”.

The judge said Mr Modi’s claim that “the borrowing was known about, tolerated or sanctioned by PNB is inherently implausible”. Applications for bank loans were being made “dishonestly”, said the judge, using “the circulation of pearls, diamonds and of gold… [that] was not genuine business.”

Mr Modi is also accused of witness intimidation and the destruction of evidence.

District Judge Goozee, handing down his judgment at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said there was sufficient evidence for a trial to take place in India.