NEW DELHI, March 9 - The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday said the UK Home Secretary has referred India�s request to extradite fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi to a court there for initiating legal proceedings.
�The UK Central Authority of Home Office has confirmed that the extradition request has been sent to the Westminster Magistrate Court for further proceedings,� said an official. The request to the court was forwarded by the UK Home Office a few days ago, the official added.
The request for extradition of Nirav Modi, wanted in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, was sent to the UK authorities in July 2018.
His remarks came after The Telegraph, a British newspaper, claimed that Nirav Modi has been spotted in London.
Earlier in the day, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that based on information received from the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the ministry had made the request for Nirav Modi�s extradition with the UK authorities in August 2018.
�The UK is yet to respond and is considering our request for extradition of Nirav Modi,� Kumar said. �Despite whatever we see on television today, the status remains the same,� he said, adding, India had made the request for extradition of Nirav Modi from the UK, �as it was aware that he was in UK�.
�Because he (Nirav Modi) has been spotted in UK doesn�t mean that he can be immediately brought back to India as there is a process. We have made a request. It is for the UK government now to consider our request and respond to the CBI and the ED demands for his extradition,� Kumar said.
Pressed about the timeline of the last communication received from the UK authorities, he replied: �As far as the MEA is concerned, when we make a request for extradition, then that request is sent on behalf of the investigative agencies. And in the last six months, we have not received any request for any other documents.�
He said the ED had sent a request to the MEA in early August last year, and the ministry forwarded that. The CBI sent the request in end August last year. �What we have been communicated is that both the requests are under consideration of the UK government,� he said.
Asked if the government was taking all necessary steps to extradite other fugitives on priority as in the case of Vijay Mallya, the spokesperson said, �We are following all the cases on priority. We will take all necessary steps.�
Earlier, the video released by The Telegraph newspaper showed Nirav Modi walking the London streets. He wore a changed look � with a handlebar moustache and long hair. He is seen avoiding every question posed to him by the reporter, saying �no comment�.
Indian intelligence agencies had already provided inputs about this new look of the fugitive billionaire.
The newspaper report also stated that Nirav Modi against whom a Red Corner Notice has been issued by the Interpol, has been living in London�s West End area and has even started a new diamond business.
On February 26, the ED attached properties of Nirav Modi and his associate companies to the tune of Rs 147 crore in connection with its ongoing Punjab National Bank fraud probe.
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are under probe by both the CBI and the ED. The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on February 15 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
The ED has till date attached properties worth Rs 4,765 crore of Choksi and Nirav Modi. � IANS