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Nirav Modi’s luxury apartment in London is likely to be sold for 55 crore (£5.25 million) or more. The apartment, held by a trust, is now allowed to be sold after a March 27 high court ruling in the UK.

Trident Trust Company (Singapore) was the claimant in the case, which had representations from the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The apartment, owned by the 52-year-old fugitive diamond merchant, is located in the Marylebone area of central London.

Barrister Harish Salve appeared on behalf of ED. He told the court that it had been agreed upon to sell the asset to safeguard the interests of the primary beneficiary, likely the Indian government, and prevent a rushed sale of the asset.

The asset, as per ED, is connected to the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud worth 16,672 crore. Modi has been facing extradition proceedings since 2022 when he lost the legal battle in the Supreme Court. 

Master James Brightwell presided over the hearing, which Modi attended virtually from prison.

“I am satisfied that it is a reasonable decision to allow for the property to be sold for GBP 5.25 million or above,” the judge concluded.

Master Brightwell also noted ED’s objections about the creation of the trust that holds the property. The trust was created in December 2017 in the name of Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Modi and their family as beneficiaries. The case, as per the judge, is a “very unusual one”.

Purvi Modi and her adult children, as per an arrangement with the Indian authorities, did not take part in the case proceedings. Nirav Modi claimed that he should be treated as a beneficiary for being the “true settler” of the trust.

Nirav Modi’s argument

Nirav Modi either gifted or loaned to the trust 6.5 crore (£625,000), which was used to buy the property, he argued. It also gives him rights, according to Modi, to any money made from selling the property. He expressed concern that ED could freeze any money received from the sale.

In April 2021, then UK Home Secretary Priti Patel issued Nirav’s extradition order on the basis of Judge Sam Goozee’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruling.

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Published: 28 Mar 2024, 09:55 AM IST

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