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Nirav Modi is Using the Same Defence Team That Fought Extradition Case for Vijay Mallya

Economic fugitives Nirav Modi (left) and Vijay Mallya.

Economic fugitives Nirav Modi (left) and Vijay Mallya.

Nirav Modi was arrested on Wednesday and produced before a District Judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London to be formally charged.

New Delhi: Fugitive businessman Nirav Modi, the main accused in the PNB scam case, was on Wednesday arrested by Scotland Yard in London, two days after the Westminster Court issued a warrant against him.

This happened just three months after liquor baron Vijay Mallya in December intended to file an application to appeal against a British court's verdict in favour of his extradition to India.

There is a common thread running here which connects the two. Anand Doobay, partner at UK-based Boutique Law LLP which specialises in extradition trial process, is the defence lawyer for both the fugitive businessmen.

Modi was arrested and produced before a District Judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London to be formally charged.

The case will then follow a similar pattern through the UK courts as that of Mallya, who remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017 on fraud and money laundering charges.

When UK Prime Minister Theresa May was still the home secretary, she appointed Doobay to a panel to review the nation's extradition arrangements.

The law firm profile of Aanand Doobay reads, “We are advising Dr Vijay Mallya who is the subject of two extradition requests made by the Government of India in relation to loans advanced to Kingfisher Airlines Limited.”

The European Parliament asked him to prepare an expert report on potential reforms to the European Arrest Warrant system.

He was also consulted as an expert by Fair Trials when they prepared their report for Interpol.

Doobay's law firm says he "has advised a serving prime minister, a former deputy prime minister, a deputy foreign minister and three G20 governments."

It also says he has been “involved in high-profile and politically sensitive investigations and prosecutions in over 50 countries," and has “successfully defended many extradition requests arguing that they were politically motivated."

"He has dealt with extradition requests made to countries other than the United Kingdom, including cases in Bermuda, Trinidad, Germany and Cyprus," his profile reads.

According to legal experts, the UK is a preferred destination for seeking asylum because of its fair legal system which gives considerable weightage to human rights.

A Deutsche Bank report says that between 2006 and 2015, UK received $129 billion from fugitive asylum seekers that was routed to its offshore havens — the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Gibraltar, Jersey and Guernsey.

Since the country does not prosecute money-laundering offences, banks in the UK launder money with impunity, says Corruption Watch. Hence the UK is considered the safest and most lucrative haven for financial fraudsters.

Corruption Watch estimates that “UK’s wealth management industry manages $800 billion of global wealth at particular risk of laundering.”

Modi is also expected to seek asylum on the grounds that he faces political persecution in India.

India’s track record of handling extradition cases filed in UK courts is not a positive one, recent examples being cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla and Navy war room-accused Ravi Shankaran's cases.

Doobay’s law firm has also worked on cases related to Yukos Oil Company, Gazprom, BTA Bank, First Curacao International Bank and Trade Bank Iraq. He was quoted for maintaining a ‘calm manner under pressure’ by Who’s Who Legal Business Crime Defence 2015.

Now to avoid returning to India, where he is wanted for an 11,000-crore bank scam, Modi is attempting to use the services of Doobay to help him get political asylum in the UK.

According to Tulip Financial Research, Britain has some 1,35,000 “high-net-worth” individuals, with liquid assets averaging £6.4 million. The Independent says Britain is today known as ‘Switzerland on the Thames’.

first published:March 20, 2019, 18:08 IST