Indian jeweler Nirav Modi arrested in London: British police

Fugitive billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi is accused of defrauding state-run Punjab National Bank about $2 billion in spurious loans. Above, a protester with a cutout of Modi in New Delhi. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Indian jeweler Nirav Modi arrested in London: British police

  • India had asked Britain in August to extradite billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi

LONDON: Diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood, was arrested in London Tuesday, more than a year after Indian authorities alleged he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud.
Modi, 48, was detained in central London and remained in custody overnight, the Metropolitan Police Service said. He is due to appear at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court for a bail hearing later Wednesday.
Indian authorities have sought Modi's arrest since February 2018, when they alleged companies he controlled defrauded the state-owned Punjab National Bank by using fake financial documents to get loans to buy and import jewels.
Police in India later raided the homes and offices of Modi and business partner Mehul Choksi, seizing nearly $800 million in jewels and gold. The men are thought to have left India before the alleged fraud was discovered.
Modi denies the allegations and has sought political asylum in the U.K.
In a letter to Punjab National Bank last year, Modi said he owed the institution about 50 billion rupees ($775 million). The $1.8 billion figure cited by the bank resulted in a media frenzy that pressured authorities to quickly search and seize assets from two of his companies, Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International, Modi said.
The son of a diamond merchant, Modi built an international jewelry empire that stretched from India to New York and Hong Kong. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra became the face of his eponymous brand and Hollywood actress Naomi Watts appeared with Modi at the opening of his first U.S. boutique in 2015.
As recently as 2017, Forbes magazine estimated Modi's wealth at $1.8 billion. But his empire began to crumble after the fraud allegations, and he was removed from the publication's billionaires list in 2018.
Last year, the international police organization Interpol issued a "red notice" seeking Modi's arrest worldwide. His arrest finally came after Britain's Daily Telegraph earlier this month said it had tracked him down to a luxury apartment in London's Centre Point tower, a 34-story building that promotes itself as a "landmark with unparalleled views."


Taliban to talk to Swedish NGO after Afghan clinic closures

Updated 38 min 51 sec ago
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Taliban to talk to Swedish NGO after Afghan clinic closures

  • The closure of the health facilities is expected to affect 6,000 people
  • Two employees died last week after a rain on an NGO clinic

KABUL: The Taliban said they will hold talks with representatives of a Swedish non-profit group after threats by the insurgents forced the organization to close 42 clinics it runs in eastern Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban would talk with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan on Thursday “to resolve the situation” in Maidan Wardak province.
Mujahid offered no details on where and how the meeting would take place.
The closures of the facilities run by the Swedish NGO in Taliban-controlled areas of Maidan Wardak are expected to affect almost 6,000 people. The clinics in government controlled parts of the province remain open.
The closures came after Afghan forces last week raided a clinic run by the NGO, in pursuit of the Taliban. Two staffers died in the raid.