Fugitive billionaire diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is accused of defrauding the state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) with over Rs 13,700 crore, is living openly in a lavish 8-million-pound apartment in London's West End and has started a new diamond business in Soho, according to a report published on a British daily The Telegraph on Saturday. Modi, the 48-year-old diamond tycoon is currently paying around 17,000 pounds a month for a three-bedroom flat occupying half of a floor of the landmark Centre Point tower block near Oxford street, the report added.
Taking to Twitter, the leading daily posted a video and interview with the alleged fugitive in the early hours of Saturday and captioned it as "Exclusive: Telegraph journalists tracked down Nirav Modi, the billionaire diamond tycoon who is a suspect for the biggest banking fraud in India's history".
In the 2 minutes-13-seconds-long video, Modi is fatter than before and can be seen sporting a handlebar moustache and wearing an Ostrich Hide jacket, estimated to cost around 10,000 pounds. However, during his video interview with the UK daily, Modi chose to remain tight-lipped while asked about various issues related to the infamous PNB fraud scam case. He ducked the journalists by saying, "Sorry, no comments".
Soon after, the Congress launched a scathing attack on the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, asking why was the Modi Govt unable to track down Nirav Modi. "Journalists of The Telegraph managed to track down Nirav Modi. Why was the Modi Govt unable to do so? Who is Modi trying to protect? Himself, Nirav Modi or the people who let him escape?" the tweet read.
There are also reports that Modi had been given a National Insurance number by the Department for Work and Pensions, which means that he can legally work in Britain, and has used British bank accounts.
The revelation comes a day after Modi's 30,000 sq ft seaside mansion at Kihim beach in Maharashtra was demolished by authorities using explosives. A large amount of dust was seen coming from the structure as it collapsed during the controlled blasts.
Trouble found Modi in February 2018, after he was found guilty of swindling the PNB of Rs 6,498.20 crore, through his companies, using fraudulent Letters of Undertakings (LoUs). But by then the jeweller had already left the country. His passport was revoked the same month.
However, India made a request to extradite the 48-year-old from Britain last August but the matter remains in the hands of the home secretary and the officials have so far refused to confirm or deny if it has received any such request.
On his extradition process, MEA Raveesh Kumar on Saturday said, "All necessary steps are being taken for the extradition of Nirav Modi. We have been aware of his presence in the UK. The extradition request s under the UK Govt’s consideration".