The arrest of the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi and his temporary jailing before he faces the extradition process from the UK is a positive for India even if his predicament now is not necessarily the fruit of great Indian efforts to nab him. His expensive ostrich feathers coat may have given him away to an intrepid British newspaper reporter. This Nirav saga of flight after a massive fraud on an Indian bank brings up the question of how the United Kingdom allows itself to be used as a haven for fugitives. Of course, since the diamond merchant’s is a case of outright bank fraud, his extradition should be a smoother affair than in the case of failed business tycoons.
An important principle will be established if fugitives like Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who is taking refuge in the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, are to be brought back and incarcerated in India like common criminals, which they undoubtedly are. It is the scale of their brazen cheating of banks to set up a multibillion jewellery boutiques across the world that takes the breath away even as it exposes glaring weaknesses in our banking systems. If only the banks had shown as much as diligence in scrutinising the operation of large loans, they may then not have been robbed of a couple of billion dollars as in the case of the rogue diamantaires.