LONDON, March 29 - A UK court rejected Nirav Modi�s second bail application today, saying there are �substantial grounds� to believe the fugitive diamantaire will fail to surrender. Looking more dishevelled and dressed in a similar white shirt as his first court appearance last week, the 48-year-old was brought to the dock to be produced before Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot and sat behind a glass enclosure as the hearing got under way.
Rejecting Modi�s bail plea after hearing both the defence and the prosecution, Judge Arbuthnot said his attempt to try and seek citizenship of Vanuatu, a remote island country located in the South Pacific Ocean, shows he was trying to move away from India at an important time.
�There are substantial grounds to believe he will fail to surrender,� said the judge, who fixed April 26 as the next date of hearing.
Modi will appear via video link from jail at the next hearing.
Earlier, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, said Modi should not be granted bail because he posed a significant flight risk and had even issued death threats to witnesses related to his fraud and money laundering case.
CPS barrister Toby Cadman told Judge Arbuthnot that there was a �substantial risk� that the prime accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud to the �amount of between USD 1 and 2 billion�, would flee and attempt to interfere with witnesses and evidence.
�Given the nature and seriousness of charges and the resources available to him� there will be an overwhelming desire to flee the jurisdiction and interfere with the administration of justice,� said Cadman.
Giving details of Modi�s attempt to interfere with witnesses, the CPS barrister made specific reference to one such witness, Ashish Lad, who Modi �threatened to kill in a phone call� and also offered him an incentive of Rs 2 million to provide a false statement.
Nilesh Mistry and three other witnesses were similarly targeted by Modi and mobile phones and a server holding �material critical to the fraud� were destroyed at request of Modi, raising fears of further �destroying of evidence� if bail was granted, the court was told.
�Due to the nature of his business he has at his disposal diamonds, gold and pearls,� added Cadman.
Modi�s defence team, led by barrister Clare Motgomery � who was also the barrister for former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya in his extradition case � opposed the CPS claims of Modi being a flight risk and stressed that in fact Modi sees UK as a �haven where his case will be fairly considered�. � PTI