Nirav Modi moves London HC for the second time in an attempt to get out of jail

LONDON: Celebrity Diamantaire has made another desperate attempt to get out of one of the most crowded prisons. He has moved the London Superior court for the second time for his current imprisonment and is making a new and fifth bail request this Thursday, the same day 112 of his assets are under the hammer.

The 49-year-old jeweler was last seen at the Westminster magistrates court on February 27 when he appeared for a brief review hearing through a video link from Wandsworth Prison and was arrested until March 24, when will appear for another technical audience.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in this case, told TOI that its last hearing was only an expiration date.

However, he has filed another bail request in the higher court that will be heard on March 5, the CPS said.

That will be his fifth bail application after his four previous attempts were unsuccessful. It is on the same day that a live auction of 112 of its assets, including rare paintings, luxury cars and wristwatches, will be held at the Saffronart auction house in Mumbai, as directed by the Compliance Department.

A spokeswoman for the administrative court of the higher court told TOI that Nirav would appear at the HC through a video link on Thursday to file a bail request regarding his extradition.

Anyone can reapply for bail if there is a change in circumstances that allow it. Modi seems to be suggesting that increasing the security he has previously offered is a change, the CPS spokesman said.

The requested persons may submit direct applications to the HC on bail after the lower court has refused twice to grant them bail.

At his most recent and fourth bail application, in November 2019, Nirav doubled his bail security offer to £4 million (Rs 37 crore), said he had been beaten up three times in jail, that he was depressed and his requests to see a counsellor denied. He also vowed to kill himself if his extradition to India was ordered, saying he would not receive a fair trial. His barrister, Hugo Keith QC, proposed he could live at his London flat with round-the-clock security in “conditions akin to those given to suspected terrorists” that Nirav would pay for.

But Chief Judge Emma Arbuthnot refused to grant bail, saying she feared he would run away.

Nirav filed his first bail request at the Westminster magistrates court on March 20, 2019, offered £ 500,000 of security and proposed that it be filed at his local police station. That was rejected. He tried again on March 29, increasing his security to £ 1 million and offering to be tagged electronically. But the judge refused. On May 8, he increased his bail security to £ 2 million, but the bail was again denied by chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, citing concerns that he would interfere with witnesses and obstruct justice.

In June 2019, Nirav's lawyer had the superior court appeal the decision of May 8, saying there was a presumption in favor of bail in extradition cases.

But Judge Simler refused to revoke the decision, saying that there are substantial reasons to believe that he will not surrender to custody and will interfere or hinder the course of justice.

Nirav is accused of defrauding the National Bank of Punjab between $ 1 and $ 2 billion (Rs 9,310 and Rs 18,620 million rupees) through the issuance of 144 fraudulent letters of commitment through three of its companies, including January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, and then wash the proceeds of crime.

His extradition trial is scheduled for the Westminster magistrates court from May 11 to 15 of this year.