Fugitive diamond dealer Nirav Modi is no longer in Hong Kong, two government officials familiar with the matter said on Thursday. Neither was sure about his current location.
The first official said Modi is believed to have reached New York in the middle of March and may still be there but the second official said Modi may have left New York too. Neither official wished to be identified.
Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal declined comment on the issue. A CBI spokesperson, too, declined comment.
Modi and his maternal uncle Mehul Choksi have been accused by the state-owned Punjab National Bank of defrauding it to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore. CBI has so far has filed three FIRs against Modi and Choksi.
But Modi and Choksi left India in the first week of January, before CBI filed its first FIR, and have refused to come back despite multiple summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI. Both the agencies have now approached Interpol seeking issuance of Red Notice (basically a notice to all Interpol member countries to detain the person and inform the country which asked for issuance of notice) against Modi and Choksi.
“Informers had initially told the investigating agencies that Nirav Modi was holed up in Hong Kong where he has considerable financial interests. That’s why the Indian government sent a request to the Hong Kong government for the provisional arrest of Nirav Modi on March 23,” said the first official. But the latest information available with agencies tracking economic offenders suggests that Modi has left Hong Kong, he added.
“We don’t know whether Nirav left Hong Kong before the Indian request for his arrest reached there or later but our informers say he is now not there,” the official said.
The second official claimed that according to information from another agency, Modi was in UAE in February, and then in Hong Kong. He was in London in March, and then in New York, the official added.
India has revoked Modi’s passport and it isn’t clear how he is travelling around with out it, although the second official said, without elaborating, that Modi could still be using his Indian passport.