New business in UK listed as ‘wholesale trader in jewellery’


Nirav Modi (File photo)Nirav Modi (File photo)

LONDON: Wanted diamantaire Nirav Modi is running a new business from an office in Soho that he registered in May 2018, according to Companies House. The 48-year-old was brazen when confronted by a reporter from the ‘Daily Telegraph’. Dressed in a £12,000 black ostrich hide jacket and black trousers, he answered “No comment” to every question, often with a smirk and then hailed a black cab.

The Telegraph team on the story since last week told TOI that Nirav Modi was “startled” like “a rabbit in headlights” on seeing them. A journalist said they could not ascertain if “the police and authorities knew he was there or not. He was not trying to live in hiding or disguise himself. He was living openly”.

Nirav’s new business is listed as a “wholesale trader in watches and jewellery and a retailer of watches and jewellery in specialised stores”. It is a few hundred yards walk from his luxury flat. He walks a small dog every day between the flat and company’s Soho office. His former shop, Nirav Modi, in Old Bond Street, Mayfair, London, was closed down and seized in July 2018 on the authority of the landlord.

Modi and his family left India in January 2018 before the CBI and ED started investigating him and Choksi for swindling PNB of over Rs 13,000 crore through their companies using fraudulent LoUs. Both agencies have now filed chargesheets in the Indian courts against the two men.

In July 2018, Interpol issued a red corner notice against Modi saying he was “wanted for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, dishonestly inducing delivery of property and money laundering”. In August, India had sent a request for his extradition to the UK Home Office. Choksi, meanwhile, fled to Antigua where he had bought citizenship.

Modi’s passport was revoked in February 2018. His status in the UK is not known but the newspaper report said Modi was given a National Insurance (NI) number in recent months by the Department for Work & Pensions and has been able to operate online bank accounts in the UK while wanted by Indian authorities. Only those with right to work in the UK can get an NI number.

His three-bedroom £8 million apartment occupies half a floor within the 34-storey luxury skyscraper Centre Point, the West End’s tallest residential tower. Three-bedroom flats in the landmark currently rent for £10,000 a month.

Sources in the ED said on Saturday they were officially informed two days ago that UK home secretary Sajid Javid had forwarded the case to Westminster magistrate’s court for further consideration from the district judge.

Toby Cadman, international law specialist, said on the purported delay in the extradition request: “There is a period in which the documentation submitted by the requesting state are… scrutinised to ensure… it meets procedural requirements…”

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “We would only confirm there is an international arrest warrant once they have been arrested and put before the courts…”