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The billionaire jeweller, who is accused of being involved in India’s biggest ever banking fraud, left India on January 1 this year, before the CBI received a complaint from Punjab National Bank (PNB) on January 29.
Since then there have been reports of him being in New York, Hong Kong and Switzerland, but no official word on his whereabouts.
Modi and his uncle and business partner, Mehul Choksi, are accused of defrauding PNB of Rs 12,600 crore. A court has issued non-bailable warrants against both men. Modi owns a chain of jewellery shops across the world, one of which is located in Old Bond Street, in London’s affluent Mayfair area.
“We have information that Nirav Modi is in the UK, but we have still not had any confirmation from the home office or the foreign office,” a well-placed source at the Indian high commission told TOI. “We believe he is travelling on forged documents,” he said.
“His Indian passport has been cancelled, so we know he cannot have entered the UK on a cancelled passport, which means he must have come in on forged documents. It could be a fake passport not in his name,” the source added.
The source said that India did not allow two passports, so it would be illegal for him to hold a Belgium or EU passport as he held an Indian passport. “Even if he is travelling on a Belgian passport, it must not be using the name Nirav Modi as everyone here knows that name has a warning on it as we have told the home office. I’ve no idea what passport he is using but I feel it is not a genuine passport and must be one not using his name. We don’t know where he is in the UK but anyone who comes here, who wants to meet lawyers face-to-face, is going to need to be near or in London as that is where the lawyers are.”
Asked whether Modi had applied for political asylum in the UK, the source said: “We asked the home office and the language they used was ‘’We don’t have any information that he has applied for political asylum here,’ which suggests he has not.