India

Nirav Modi arrested in UK amid India fraud case allegations

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Nirav Modi pictured together in 2016 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nirav Modi's diamonds were worn by celebrities like Rosie Huntington-Whitely

A billionaire Indian diamond trader, whose jewellery was worn by the likes of model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and actress Priyanka Chopra-Jonas, has been arrested in the UK.

Nirav Modi is wanted for his alleged role in India's largest bank fraud, totalling some $2bn (£1.5bn).

He left the country in early 2018, and has not returned to India since.

Mr Modi, 48, was arrested in central London on Tuesday, and appeared in court on Wednesday.

Police said the arrest had been made on behalf of the Indian authorities, who have asked for his extradition.

The judge at Westminster Magistrates Court refused to grant him bail and he has been remanded in custody until 29 March.

Mr Modi's case was thrust back into the limelight after a British newspaper found him living in an £8m ($10.5m) London flat.

The Telegraph newspaper spoke to him near the Oxford Street apartment in early March 2019. It is thought Mr Modi - who disappeared in February 2018 - had reportedly been in the British capital since at least June.

Within days, officials confirmed that UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid had certified India's extradition request, initially made last August.

The arrest comes at an interesting time in India, where people will start voting for their new MPs in the next few weeks. A successful extradition could boost the ruling BJP's standing in the polls.

What are the allegations?

Punjab National Bank (PNB), India's second-largest state-run bank, accuses Mr Modi of being one of the main suspects in a scam which defrauded it of $2bn.

His uncle Mehul Choksi, who has been in Antigua since the allegations emerged, is also wanted by the Indian authorities.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Priyanka Chopra-Jonas advertised the brand

The banks said the suspects had used unapproved guarantees, issued by rogue PNB staff, to borrow from other lenders.

Mr Modi has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Who is Nirav Modi?

Mr Modi is one of India's richest men, worth an estimated $1.75bn, according to Forbes.

He was born into a diamond trading dynasty, but only launched his own eponymous brand back in 2010.

The brand grew quickly, and he soon had stores across India, as well as in New York, London and Hong Kong.

His diamond-encrusted designs were worn by stars like Kate Winslet, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Naomi Watts, while the Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra-Jonas appeared in advertisements for the brand.

The shops were raided and his assets frozen after the allegations emerged last year.

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