India seeks celebrity jeweller’s extradition from Britain

A Nirav Modi showroom is pictured in New Delhi, India. (Reuters pic)

NEW DELHI: Indian authorities said Monday they have asked Britain to extradite fugitive billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi after he was seen there.

Modi, who is allegedly at the centre of a US$1.8 billion fraud, fled India in February and has since been linked to several countries.

But a Central Bureau of Investigation spokesperson told AFP: “We received confirmation from Britain through our Interpol channels that Nirav Modi has been seen there.”

The bureau was also in contact with the United States, France, Singapore, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong as it launched a global hunt for the tycoon.

The fraud involved India’s second largest state-run lender, the Punjab National Bank.

Modi and his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi, a diamond merchant, are accused of illegally diverting loans from the bank to foreign-based companies.

Choksi is believed to be in Antigua.

Modi, 47, had luxury stores in several major cities and boasted celebrity customers including actresses Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra.

Before the case Forbes estimated his worth at US$1.73 billion, placing him 85th on India’s rich list. He has now been removed.