Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, appeared via videolink before a UK court on the first day of his five-day extradition trial on Monday, taking place in a part-remote setting due to the coronavirus lockdown. Nirav is is the prime accused in the nearly USD 2 billion PNB fraud and money laundering case , and the fighting against extradition to India .
According to a news report by an agency the embattled 49-year-old jeweller, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March last year, joined the proceedings via the court’s common viewing platform (CVP) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London dressed formally in a white shirt and black blazer.
The hearing got off to a delayed start as officials sorted out technical difficulties of connecting the court room to the prison.
Given the social distancing measures being followed by prisons and courts, District Judge Samuel Goozee had conceded that Modi can follow the proceedings via videolink rather than the norm of being produced in person.
“It is important that if you have any difficulty with the audio or visual of the proceedings at any time, to let us know immediately,” Judge Goozee told Modi, so that he can follow the court proceedings in an open way as per the law.
A handful of legal representatives were present in the court room, as previously agreed, with witnesses set to give their evidence via videolink.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), appearing on behalf of the Indian authorities, began by laying out the basis of the Indian government”s case.
CPS barrister Helen Malcolm appeared via videolink to tell the court that Modi acquired “eye watering amounts of money” fraudulently from Punjab National Bank (PNB).
“There is really nothing very complicated about this case. It covers three aspects – the fraud, then laundering of that fraud money and the rotation of goods around the Modi empire,” she said.
The five-day hearing which started on Monday relates to the Indian government’s extradition request certified by the UK government last year.