Diamantaire Nirav Modi, who was wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering in Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, on Thursday lost his legal battle against extradition as a UK judge ruled that he does have a case to answer before the Indian courts.
For the past few years, the central government is leaving no stone unturned to extradite all those businessmen who fled the country after charges of financial irregularities and fraud were registered against them by probe agencies.
According to a report published in Business Today in September last year, Union Minister Anurag Thakur had informed the Parliament that a total of 38 economic offenders, including Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi fled the country in the last five years. He responded to a query by an MP Dean Kuriakose on whether the Centre has any data on businessmen who managed to flee to other countries after named in fraud cases in the last five years.
In the light of extradition case of Nirav Modi, News18.com has made a list of few businessmen, who managed to flee the country after being named in alleged massive loan frauds. Have a look:
1. Vijay Mallya
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loan amounting to Rs 9,000 crore he had taken for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. He is currently living in UK and has been declared fugitive by the Indian government. Mallya is wanted by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case. He was arrested on an extradition warrant by Scotland Yard in April 2017, but is currently out on bail.
In 2019, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid had approved Mallya’s extradition order, clearing decks for his return to India. Even after losing his battle against extradition in British courts, Acting British High Commissioner Jan Thompson had said that it has not yet “resolved” all the legal issues related to his return to India, as reported by The Hindu.
2. Mehul Choksi
Jeweller Mehul Choksi is one of the prime accused in the alleged over Rs 13,000 crore PNB loan fraud case. He fled India and is stated by ED and CBI to be based in Antigua and Barbuda. Modi, 49, is in a London jail after he was held by authorities there in 2019 on the basis of a legal request made by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in this case. He is contesting extradition to India. It was alleged that Choksi, his firm Gitanjali Gems and others “committed the offence of cheating against the Punjab National Bank in connivance with certain bank officials by fraudulently getting the LOUs (letters of undertaking) issued and got the FLCs (foreign letter of credit) enhanced without following prescribed procedure and caused a wrongful loss to the bank”.
3. Sanjay Bhandari
Sanjay Bhandari, who was arrested on an extradition warrant in July 2020 and later granted bail, is now contesting his extradition to India. He is an accused arms dealer and “proclaimed offender” wanted in India on money laundering charges. He is sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for prosecution for money laundering contrary to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002. He faces cases against him in India filed by the probe agencies.
Sanjay Bhandari has been reportedly linked with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s husband, Robert Vadra, who has denied any business connections with the accused.
4. Hitesh Narendra Bhai Patel
Hitesh Patel, an accused in the Rs 8,100-crore bank loan fraud allegedly perpetrated by Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech group, was detained in Albania on the basis of an Interpol notice issued against him by the ED. The Indian probe agencies are now trying to extradite Patel, who is an US citizen, and are in constant touch with the Interpol and Albanian authorities.
5. Ashish Jobanputra and Priti Jobanputra
A money laundering case was registered in 2017 against Ahmedabad-based textile import firm ABC Cotspin. Since then, the ED is searching for its promoters Ashish Jobanputra and Priti Jobanputra. In the Rs 800-crore worth fraud case, the company was allegedly availing bill discounting facilities from two banks — State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Baroda (BoB) — against LC of other prime banks, as reported by ThePrint. The couple managed to flee from India soon the case was busted and both are now suspected to be in Los Angeles.