Hours after a British daily reported that Nirav Modi, accused in the USD 2-billion Punjab national Bank (PNB) scam, is living a luxurious life in London and is involved in a new diamond business, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday took potshots at External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and asked if she would “swoop down” and bring back the fugitive diamantaire.
Taking to Twitter, Chidambaram said: “When Lalit Modi stayed on in the UK, I wrote to the UK Chancellor that he should be sent back to India. Mrs Sushma Swaraj mocked me for writing letters.”
“Now Nirav Modi is walking on the streets of London. Will Mrs Sushma Swaraj swoop down, pluck him off the street and bring him back to India?” he added.
The remarks by the former finance minister came at a time when the government said it is taking all steps to extradite Nirav Modi from the UK, asserting that the extradition request made to that country shows that New Delhi was aware he is there.
It also said the UK was considering India's request to extradite Modi, a diamantaire accused in the USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank scam.
MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, at a media briefing, said the fact that "we requested the UK government for extradition of Nirav Modi, means that we were aware that he is in UK otherwise we would not have made the request".
"Just because he has been spotted doesn't mean he can be immediately brought back to India as there is a process in place. We have made a request for extradition, it is for the UK government now to consider our request and respond to the demand of the CBI and ED for extradition," he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress slammed the government over the media report and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running a “fraudster settlement yojana” for such fugitives.
The opposition party also alleged that fugitives had looted Rs 1 lakh crore from Indian banks but not even one of them has been caught in five years of the Modi government.
According to report in a British daily on Saturday, Modi is living in a swanky 8 million pound apartment in London's West End and is now involved in a new diamond business.
Modi, 48, is currently living in a three-bedroom flat occupying half of a floor of the landmark Centre Point tower block, where rent is estimated to cost 17,000 pounds a month, The Telegraph reported.
The revelation comes a day after Modi's 30,000 sq ft seaside mansion at Kihim beach in Maharashtra was demolished by authorities using explosives.
Despite his bank accounts being frozen by the Indian authorities and an Interpol red notice being issued for his arrest, Modi, a diamond jeweller whose designs have been worn by Hollywood stars, is now involved in a new diamond business based in London, the report said.
In a video posted by the newspaper, Modi can be seen sporting a handle-bar moustache and wearing an Ostrich Hide jacket, estimated to cost 10,000 pounds.
When journalists from the paper questioned him on various issues, including whether he has urged Britain to grant him asylum, Modi ducked them by saying, "Sorry, no comments".
A source told the the UK daily that Modi had been given a national insurance number by the Department for Work and Pensions, meaning he can legally work in Britain, and has used British bank accounts.