Fugitive Indian diamantaire Nirav Modi, who along with his uncle Mehul Choksi is an accused in the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam case, was on Wednesday denied bail for the third time by London’s Westminster Magistrates Court Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.
He was denied bail despite an offer from his defence team to double the bail security to £2 million ($2.6 million). Modi’s defence counsel, Barrister Clare Montgomery told the magistrate that conditions at the Wandsworth prison where Modi is currently incarcerated are ‘unliveable’ and that he was willing to abide by any conditions the court chose to impose, including staying under a 24-hour curfew in his flat.
However, the judge was not convinced, observing that doubling the bail security to £2 million did not cover the concern that he would fail to surrender given the size and scope of what he is accused of.
Modi is reported to have been living in the UK under an investor visa obtained under the so-called ‘golden visa’ method that allowed high net worth individuals to acquire UK residency rights based on a minimum £2 million investment in the country.
Soon after being arrested by Scotland Yard, Modi was denied bail by District Judge Marie Mallon at his first hearing on March 20. He was denied bail a second time on March 29 by Chief Magistrate Arbuthnot, who noted that she believed he would fail to surrender and that ‘very unusually in a fraud case’, the accused had made death threats to witnesses.