UK approves extradition of Indian diamond trader Nirav Modi

Modi is accused of involvement in a $1.8 billion bank fraud in India

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)
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The UK's home secretary has approved the extradition of diamond tycoon Nirav Modi to India to face allegations of a $1.8 billion bank fraud.

Mr Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood, has been held in London's Wandsworth Prison as he battled extradition to India.

In February, he appeared via video link from prison at Westminster Magistrates Court where a judge sent his case for extradition to Home Secretary Priti Patel for a final decision.

Following her approval, he now has two weeks to appeal the decision in the High Court before he will be removed from the UK and returned to India.

District Judge Samuel Goozee had ruled that the jeweller has a case to answer before the Indian courts.

"I do not accept that Nirav Modi was involved in legitimate business. I find no genuine transactions and believe there is a process of dishonesty," the judge said.

"Many of these are a matter for trial in India. I am satisfied again that there is evidence he could be convicted. Prima facie there is a case of money laundering."

Judge Goozee dismissed Mr Modi’s argument that he would not be treated fairly in India.

Mr Modi has refused to submit to extradition to India and denies the fraud allegations. He had sought political asylum in the UK.

Indian authorities have sought Mr Modi’s arrest since February 2018, when they alleged companies he controlled defrauded the state-owned Punjab National Bank by using fake financial documents to get loans to buy and import jewels.

Last year, Indian authorities seized diamonds, pearls and silver worth millions of dollars belonging to the gem trader.

The valuables, worth 13.5 billion rupees ($177 million), had been kept in a warehouse in Hong Kong after being moved there from Dubai in 2018, India’s Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, said.