Nirav Modi seeks political asylum in UK, ED seeks extradition

Billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi is at the centre of the over $2 billion PNB fraud case

Officials from the United Kingdom have confirmed that Nirav Modi, the main accused in the high-profile Punjab National Bank fraud case, is indeed in Britain, sources in the Indian government said today.

The confirmation that Nirav Modi is in the United Kingdom comes hours after worldwide business daily Financial Times, citing Indian and British governments, reported that the billionaire jeweller is in London where he is trying to claim asylum from what he calls "political persecution".

In wake of the infamous Rs 13,000 crore PNB scam, the Central bureau of Investigation on Monday asked Interpol to issue red corner notices against businessmen Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi.

The issue of extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya is progressing through appropriate legal channels and Britain has "reassured" India about it, British Minister for Countering Extremism Baroness Williams said.

But he fled India in February for an unknown location after being accused of being at the centre of a $1.8-billion fraud involving India's second largest public lender, Punjab National Bank (PNB).

Britain's Home Office, which deals with the asylum requests, has reportedly refused to confirm or deny the reports of Modi seeking political asylum saying that 'it does not provide information on individual cases'.

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This figure is said to be just a part of the total losses.

PNB said in February that Modi and Choksi had defrauded it by raising credit with worldwide branches of other Indian banks, using illegal guarantees provided by rogue PNB employees.

Rijiju, after his meeting, said, "The government is making every effort to bring back Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya".

It recently announced a $32 billion recapitalization plan to help them clean up their books ahead of the general election in 2019.

Last month several executives of the ban were named in the chargesheet. The bank reported a net loss of 134.17 billion rupees from January to March, compared with a 2.62 billion rupee profit in the same period a year ago.

The losses were largely because it had to set aside funds to pay the other banks for the illegal guarantees issued in the scam.

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