A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai declared wanted diamond businessman Nirav Modi a fugitive economic offender (FEO) on Thursday.
Modi, currently in prison in London, is wanted for his alleged role in defrauding the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) to the tune of over $2 billion with the help of his uncle Mehul Choksi, whio is also a fugitive from Indian law.
The diamond merchant has been denied bail on four occasions by the Westminster Magistrates' Court on the grounds that he is remains a flight risk.
The FEO Act allows the Indian government to confiscate the property of any economic offender evading prosecution by remaining outside the jurisdiction of the Indian courts.
In India, multiple revenue and law enforcement agencies are investigating both Modi and Choksi for various acts of financial irregularity. The Central Bureau of Investigation is probing cases of criminal conspiracy and misuse of office by officials of the Punjab National Bank for colluding with the accused, while the Enforcement Directorate, the country’s main economic intelligence agency, is investigating a money laundering case against both Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi.
Choksi is said to be staying in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda
Last month, India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed Parliament that banking sector fraud of around $13.68 billion had been reported in the country between April and September 2019 compared with $10.21 billion in the whole of the previous year.