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India asks Hong Kong to arrest jeweler Nirav Modi in bank fraud

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has asked authorities in Hong Kong to arrest jeweler Nirav Modi, one of the main suspects in a $2-billion fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNBK.NS), the government said, suggesting it believes the fugitive is in the Chinese territory.

A Nirav Modi showroom is pictured in New Delhi, India, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The whereabouts of Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, the other person accused in India’s biggest banking fraud at the country’s second-largest state lender, have been unknown since federal police launched an investigation in February.

“The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China,” junior foreign minister V.K. Singh told parliament on Thursday.

The passports of Modi and Choksi, who both left India before the scandal emerged, have been revoked. Singh said India had submitted the request for Modi’s arrest to Hong Kong on Mar. 23.

Modi, who owned a chain of boutiques from New York to Hong Kong, and Choksi are accused of defrauding banks by raising loans from overseas branches of Indian lenders using nearly $2 billion of fraudulent guarantees issued by rogue Punjab National Bank staff at a Mumbai branch.

Modi and Choksi have both denied wrongdoing.

Reporting by Malini Menon; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez

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