MEA requests Hong Kong to arrest Nirav Modi; Choksi location unknown ?

India has submitted an official request to Hong Kong to arrest business tycoon Nirav Modi, accused in the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud. The government, however, is not aware of the whereabouts of Nirav's uncle and co-accused, Mehul Choksi.

"We requested Honk Kong authorities to surrender Nirav Modi. There is a 1997 agreement between India and Hong Kong for the surrender of fugitive offenders. Hong Kong Department of Justice is examining our request for the provisional order of arrest. We are awaiting response from Hong Kong authorities," Ravish Kumar, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said here on Thursday.

Earlier this month, junior Foreign Minister V K Singh informed Parliament that India on March 23 requested Hong Kong to provisionally arrest the jeweller. It was the first government acknowledgment of the whereabouts of the controversial jeweller, wanted by law enforcement.

A special CBI court in Mumbai has already issued non-bailable warrants against Modi and Choksi diamontaire duo in connection with the PNB scam. Choksi is also being probed by the CBI for another bank loan worth more than Rs 5,200 crore.

Asked whether any other country was approached for information on Choksi, Kumar said the MEA did not know the whereabouts of the Gitanjali group owner.

The MEA came into the picture only after investigating agencies identified the location of a fugitive, which was the case with Modi, he said.

Mallya extradition

Asked about the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the UK in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's forthcoming visit to London, Nagraj Naidu, joint secretary, west Europe in the MEA, said the issue of extradition of economic offenders was being dealt with by the Union Home Ministry.

Mallya, who is wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines' default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore, has been in the UK since March 2016. India has been pressing for cooperation from Britain in extradition of as many as 13 individuals, including Mallya, former Indian Premier League honcho Lalit Modi and cricket bookie Sanjiv Chawla.

Prime Minister Modi will be in the UK between April 19-21.

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