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The Telegraph

India’s most wished man Nirav Modi stole huge sums of cash by claiming he was shopping for pearls, court docket hears

India’s most wished man, who was tracked down by the Telegraph to a London flat, stole “eye watering” sums of cash by claiming they have been wanted to purchase a consignment of pearls, a court docket heard. Nirav Modi, 49, fled the nation whereas suspected of perpetrating a £1.5 billion financial institution fraud, the biggest in Indian historical past, on the state-run Punjab Nationwide Financial institution (PNB). The billionaire diamond seller was arrested in March final yr after the Telegraph traced him to an deal with occupying half a flooring in Centre Level tower, the place lease is estimated to value £17,000-a-month, and to an workplace across the nook in Soho Sq.. An extradition listening to at Westminster Magistrates Courtroom heard Modi was in a position to swindle £1.5 billion from the financial institution through the use of insiders and threatening to kill witnesses in a world “Ponzi scheme”. Modi additionally allegedly glued low-grade diamonds onto jewelry so that they may very well be repackaged and offered at a better value to con lenders, the court docket heard. Modi has beforehand protested his innocence by means of attorneys in court docket hearings in India. At present residing at HMP Wandsworth, the 49-year-old appeared by way of video-link sporting a white shirt and black go well with on the first of 5 scheduled hearings which can resolve whether or not he’s to be extradited to India. Helen Malcolm QC, for the Indian authorities, mentioned the fraud had been orchestrated by fiddling MOUs (memorandums of understanding) – a mortgage utilized by companies to import international items at a less expensive charge. Modi allegedly persuaded corrupt employees throughout the PNB to log out MOUs beneath the pretence that they have been getting used to repay exporters on a consignment of pearls from Hong Kong, the court docket heard. However the “eye-watering” sums of cash have been as a substitute distributed throughout different companies within the Modi empire to repay a backlog of earlier debt in a “Ponzi scheme of borrowing,” it was mentioned. The magnate then used a number of “dummy” administrators as figureheads to distance himself on paperwork from the businesses concerned whereas sustaining management. Ms Malcolm mentioned the PNB caught wind of the scheme in 2018. The court docket heard Modi and his brother “set out on a marketing campaign to frighten witnesses” when the fraud was found. One witness was mentioned to be “threatened with dying and implication in a theft”, whereas cellphones belonging to a lot of individuals have been allegedly destroyed to be able to do away with proof. The extradition listening to continues.

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