Nirav Modi was trying for Vanuatu citizenship: UK judge
London: In a new revelation, a London court said that fugitive diamond businessman Nirav Modi was trying to flee to Vanuatu — a tiny island off the coast of Australia.
Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot who was hearing the bail plea of Nirav Modi said: “He was attempting to become a citizen of Vanuatu and that is some way away for someone trying to run businesses, which may indicate he has interest to move away from India at this important time,” the judge added.
Nirav looked as if he was about to cry when he heard this. He was unshaven, with greasy hair and looked unkempt and dishevelled compared to his first appearance in court last week.
The court heard that Nirav had tried to purchase US $200,000 buy citizenship in Vanuatu, a tiny island in the South Pacific ocean, at the end of 2017 but it was refused. “The Vanuatu authorities discovered there was an ongoing investigation so it was declined,” Toby Cadman, prosecuting, on behalf of Indian government, told the court. Cadman argued Nirav should not be given bail as he presented a flight risk and had interfered with witnesses and with evidence.
At the hearing, Nirav’s lawyer Clare Montgomery QC had put forward a bail security offer of up to £1 million and offered for Nirav to be electronically tagged or report at his local police station in something akin to “house arrest”.
But the chief magistrate, who was delivering the verdict, said: “Clare’s offer is not substantial security in a case where a billion dollars is said to be lost. These are early stages of the case and there are major inconsistencies in some witness statements. Looking at the case as it is today, I do find substantial grounds to believe he would fail to surrender based on his lack of community ties, as his son has gone to the US, and the large resources he could draw on.”