India seizes gems cache of wanted jewel trader

Jeweller to the stars Nirav Modi remains in UK prison during extradition battle

MUMBAI, INDIA - AUGUST 9: Luxury diamond jewellery designer and founder and creative director of the Nirav Modi chain of diamond jewellery retail stores Nirav Modi at his office in Lower Parel, on August 9, 2016 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint via Getty Images)
Powered by automated translation

Indian authorities have seized diamonds, pearls and silver worth millions of dollars belonging to wanted gem trader Nirav Modi.

The valuables worth 13.5 billion rupees (Dh650 million) had been kept in a warehouse in Hong Kong after being moved there from Dubai in 2018, said India’s Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes.

Mr Modi, whose jewels adorned celebrities including actresses Kate Winslet and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, remains in a British prison as he battles extradition to India, accused of a money-laundering and fraud operation worth nearly $2bn.

The jeweller was arrested in March last year after spending 15 months on the run after he and his uncle Mehul Choksi were accused for fraudulently securing guarantees from Punjab National Bank from corrupt staff in Mumbai that were then used to obtain loans from abroad.

The Enforcement Directorate said the seized jewels belonged to Mr Modi and Mr Choksi, who also fled India and is living in Antigua.

Mr Modi is fighting against extradition and his lawyers argued at a hearing last month that Indian prisons were too overcrowded and there were no provisions available to help his “serious mental condition”.