LONDON (AP) — Diamond tycoon Nirav Modi on Wednesday lost an appeal of a British court's ruling that he should be extradited from the U.K. to India to face allegations he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud.
Two High Court judges upheld a lower court's ruling that the fugitive jeweler has a case to answer before Indian courts and that it would not be “unjust or oppressive” for British authorities to send him to India.
Modi’s lawyers said the tycoon experienced depression and argued his mental health put him at risk of suicide if he were extradited.
Judges Jeremy Stuart-Smith and Robert Jay said they were “far from satisfied that Mr. Modi’s mental condition and the risk of suicide are such that it would be either unjust or oppressive to extradite him.”
The judges criticized the lower court for approving extradition last year without seeking assurances that Modi would be humanely treated in India, calling the decision “bold to the point of being unwise.” But they said Indian authorities had now promised that Modi, 51, would receive “suitable medical provision.”
Modi denies the fraud allegations and could try to challenge Wednesday's ruling at the U.K. Supreme Court.
Indian authorities have sought Modi 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.
He was detained in London in 2019 and has since been held without bail in prison.
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.
Forbes magazine estimated Modi’s wealth at $1.8 billion in 2017, but he was removed from the publication’s billionaires’ list after the fraud allegations.