Nirav Modi fled India to the UK about three years ago because he is suspected of orchestrating the biggest money laundering and bank fraud in the Asian country, in the amount of £ 1.5 billion (€ 1.7 billion) . This week, he went on trial in Her Majesty’s land to be extradited, in a lawsuit submitted by the Confederation of British Industry, and the defense presented videos that allegedly prove that the famous jeweler threatened six collaborators to implicate them for theft and even death.
A group of six Indian men can be heard in the said video shown at the London Magistrates’ Court during this week’s trial. Each of them claimed to have been forced to leave Dubai to move to Cairo, Egypt. There, they say that their passports were confiscated and that they were allegedly forced, by Modi’s brother, to sign dubious documents against his will. The man with a wealth estimated at more than billions of euros, according to Forbes, is currently considered the most wanted criminal in India.
«Nirav Modi called me and told me that he would implicate me for theft. He used the worst expletives and said he was going to have me killed because he had done so much for us, ”said Ashish Kumar Mohanbhai Lad in Hindi, in another video recorded in 2018, cited by the Deccan Chronicle.
It was in Dubai where Modi allegedly established ghost companies – led by the men now heard in court – that were used for the circular rotation of low-quality jewelery at inflated prices to give the impression that it was exporting, according to the Times of India . The accusations against the multimillionaire, jeweler of many Hollywood and Bollywood stars, came in his ascension phase – he was already the second best-known Modi in India (he has the same nickname as the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi). In recent years, models and movie stars like Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have been seen wearing her extravagant jewelry. Modi had been establishing an international jewelery empire in the eight years preceding the appearance of accusations of fraud and money laundering, with stores in London, New York, Hong Kong and Macau, selling necklaces and earrings encrusted with diamonds.
Modi stole the smashing sum claiming it was necessary to buy a shipment of pearls – the fraud was with the state bank, the National Bank of Punjab. According to the indictment of the Indian Government, Modi conspired with officials of the National Bank of Punjab to issue guarantees to their companies without undergoing the mandatory credit check and without being registered, in order to borrow from other creditors.
As soon as the charges were raised, the Indian, who founded Firestar Diamond, quickly fled to British lands. At the time, in 2017, Indian police asked Interpol to help locate him. But as to his whereabouts, it turned out that the Telegraph did the police work. The newspaper found it in 2019: the diamond trader was living in an apartment in London, at the Center Point Tower, where the rent costs about 17,000 pounds (19,200 euros) a month, according to the British daily.
Since being arrested by the British police in March last year, due to the revelations of the Telegraph, India has asked for his extradition twice. The second request, made this year, related to the “disappearance of evidence”, intimidation of witnesses and “criminal intimidation” that could cause death.
The diamond business was a tradition that Modi inherited from her family and jewelry was part of her daily life. He grew up in Antwerp, Belgium, one of the world capitals of the diamond trade, according to the South Morning China Post. He traveled across Europe with his mother to visit museums and attend classical music concerts in Rome, Brussels and Paris. With that privilege, his first ambition was to become a musical conductor. But at the age of 19 he moved to India to study everything about diamonds and jewelry at his uncle’s company.
“I worked almost every day of the week to train all aspects of jewelery production, from supplying stones and raw materials to final quality checks,” he said in 2016 to the Hong Kong newspaper: “Coming from a lineage of goldsmiths, diamonds were always part of our conversations at the dinner table. Over the years, diamonds have become second nature to me, so it seemed like a natural progression ». He also recalled his mother and his taste for jewelry. “I used them without any effort,” he said. “Jewelery is such an intrinsic part of Indian culture that I think I always thought of it as a part of a woman.”