New Delhi: Britain on Monday assured India to fully cooperate in the extradition process of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi and liquor barron Vijay Mallya who are accused in separate multi-crore bank loan defraud cases, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said.
Meanwhile, government sources said that British Minister for Counter Terrorism Baroness Williams also confirmed to Indian authorities that Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller at the heart of a more than Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, is reportedly residing in her country – an admission coming in the wake of reports about him seeking political asylum there.
At a counter terrorism dialogue held here, Williams guaranteed Rijiju of Britain’s support in the process to extradite Nirav Modi and Mallya to India.
“I had a very useful meeting with UK Minister, Baroness Williams. We discussed about India-UK joint efforts to deal with terrorism and extremism. We also agreed to cooperate in the matters of extradition and sharing of information,” Rijiju said after the meeting.
“We have put across the government of India’s demands that anybody who is wanted by Indian agencies or an Indian court, we seek the cooperation from the UK authorities (on extradition).
“The (UK) minister has assured to give full cooperation whether it is Vijay Mallya case or Nirav Modi or anybody,” he said.
Nirav Modi left India with his family a month before the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a criminal case against him on January 31 after PNB, India’s second-largest, state-run bank, lodged a case alleging him and his uncle Mehul Choksi to defraud it by raising credit from overseas branches of other banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.
India is already seeking the extradition of Mallya, a liquor and aviation tycoon, over unpaid loans to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman and co-owner of the Formula One Force India team moved to Britain in March last year. Mallya, who has been staying there for over a year now, has been accused of defaulting on loans worth thousands of crores.
Rijiju further said there is a good understanding between the Indian and British governments and that the two leaders reiterated they would cooperate with each other and address each other’s concerns over other issues.
Besides extradition of Nirav Modi and Mallya, Rijiju discussed issues related to anti-India movement being carried out by pro-Khalistan Sikh Federation with the British minister.
“…there are certain elements who are misusing the UK territory to propagate or also conduct activities which is anti-India.
“So, I have requested the minister that using the UK’s territory for anti-India agenda must be curtailed. We are not against the freedom of speech. UK is a liberal country, so are we. We are also a democratic country and we cannot curb the freedom of speech. But the freedom of speech cannot be misused to abuse the country’s image. So, we are very clear that UK should not be a country where anti-India activities can be conducted without any kind of restriction or check,” Rijiju said.
The discussions between the two delegations covered variety of important issues ranging from cooperation in matters of migration, tackling extremism, extradition and sharing of criminal records.
During the meeting, Rijiju also called for implementation of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force to check money laundering and terrorist financing.
While underlining the need for cooperation in fighting international terrorism, he said terrorism cannot be viewed with a prismatic view and urged Williams to check anti-India activities on its soil.
She assured cooperation of the highest level on this issue, a Home Ministry statement said.
Allaying concerns over prison conditions in India, Rijiju said there are absolute safeguards against human rights violations in Indian prisons.
In response to the British Minister’s request for facilitating repatriation of illegal migrants, Rijiju said that “while the issue of time frames is important, the government would like to reassure itself about the completion of verification before repatriation process begins”.