UK allows celebrity jeweler suspected of massive fraud to challenge extradition to India

Good news for Nirav Modi. Nicknamed the “star jeweler” thanks to his famous clients from Hollywood and Bollywood, who fled India in February 2018 (where he is suspected of playing a key role in a €1.5 billion scam against Punjab National Bank, one of India’s largest lenders), by The United Kingdom to appeal his extradition to the Indian subcontinent. British justice first assessed in February 2020 that there was nothing against the extradition of a goldsmith wanted in India on charges of money laundering, witness intimidation and evidence destruction. The UK Home Office then ordered this extradition in April 2020.

The 50-year-old, who has been held at Wandsworth Prison since his March 2019 arrest, appealed in July, arguing that the court’s decision to allow his extradition would not be lawful as it interfered with his right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment due to his deteriorating mental health. His lawyers have argued that Indian prisons will struggle to provide adequate psychological care to the detainee and that the resurgence of Covid-19 in India means that the decision to extradite him must be reconsidered.

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Judge Martin Chamberlain on Monday allowed the Indian national to continue this appeal, saying that “the reasons (for this request) are reasonably defensible.” The shift empowers Mr Modi to challenge the legality of the February 2020 judicial decision within 14 days, but not to challenge the extradition order itself, which was issued by the UK Home Office.

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Prior to this alleged fraud that rocked India’s business world, Forbes magazine estimated Nirav Modi’s fortune at $1.73 billion (€1.47 billion), making him the 85th richest person in India.

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