The billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi who is absconding from India after the surfacing of the bank a fraud that involved over $2 billion, reportedly has approached the United Kingdom government seeking political asylum in the country. It is suspected that he along with his family had fled India and settled in the UK soon after the scam was about to come to light.

The news of Nirav Modi seeking political asylum in the UK was first reported in the Financial Times on Sunday.

There has been no conformation of the claims made in the news report as the Home Office of UK said that it does not provide information on individual cases.

There had also not been any reaction available in the media from Nirav Modi as he was not reachable.

India’s second-largest state-run bank – Punjab National Bank, had been defrauded by about $2.2 billion by two jewellery groups headed by Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the bank had announced earlier in early 2018. The forgery was carried out by the accused by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks on PNB with the use of illegal guarantees that were issued by a few corrupt staff at PNB who were posted at a Mumbai branch throughout several years.

The markets regulator had warned the Punjab National Bank about the possibility of such a fraud.  It was about a year before the scam came to the light that a warning was raised by the CVC over the issue.

The media had reported that Nirav Modi is in London and is trying to claim asylum from what he calls “political persecution” that he would have to face in India.

The British ministry of external affairs told the media that an approach from the law enforcement agencies was being awaited by the government before it could start pushing for an extradition of Modi. This has so far not happened. There was no comment available from the ministry about the news report.

The Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya is also in the UK and a search for him is on for getting him arrested in connection to cases registered against him in India related to unpaid loans for his invalid Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya is also the co-owner of Formula One Force India team and had moved to Britain in March last year following much furore over his unpaid dues to bank that ran into millions of dollars.

In the Nirav Modi case, police filed charges against more than 25 people in May this year. The list has the name of Modi, Choksi, former PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, two of the bank’s executive directors and three companies belonging to Nirav Modi.

In the charge sheet filed last month, the police accused senior executives of the bank for the forgery. The charge sheet further says that the executives mislead the central bank in late 2016.

(Adapted from TheTimesofIndia.com)