How the mighty have fallen! Just a few days ago, Nirav Modi was seen calmly strolling on the streets of London sporting a handle-bar moustache and a jacket by Ostrich Hide, said to cost "at least £10,000." And now, in a turn of events, the fugitive diamantaire is housed in a south-west London jail, which is far from his life of luxury and is, in fact, one of the most crowded prisons in England.
Modi was arrested by uniformed officers on March 19, when he had visited a Metro Bank branch in London to open a new account. He was produced before District Judge Marie Mallon on Wednesday, March 20, and during the proceedings, Mallon said that she wasn't willing to grant Modi bail due to the "high value amount" involved in the case and over the belief that he would "fail to surrender" before the court in case he was set free, reported the Hindu Business Line.
Hence, Modi was refused bail and has been remanded to custody at the HMP Wandsworth prison until March 29, and the prison is probably what the diamantaire's nightmares are made of. While the 48-year-old was said to be living in an upscale three-bedroom £8 million apartment at the Centre Point, a luxury skyscraper, off Tottenham Court Road, he now has Jabir Moti, Dawood Ibrahim's henchman, as an inmate.
The jail is known to house a high number of prisoners — about 1,428 men — due to which even a small cell is shared between at least two inmates. "There were too many prisoners, many with drug-related or mental health issues, and with not enough to do," noted the inspection report, according to the Press Trust of India.
While the UK Justice Department has said that the prison, built in 1851, has been renovated and refurbished since 1989 with better in-cell sanitation, privacy screens for cells and even in-cell electricity, it is evidently not a place Modi is accustomed to. Prisoners here are said to be enduring long hours of confinement and even a lack of basic privacy with poorly screened lavatories.
"Cells designed for one prisoner were occupied by two, with poorly screened lavatories and the prisoners confined in them for far too long each day...In common with many other prisons of this type, prisoners at Wandsworth had far too little time out of their cells," the report added.
The fugitive businessman may be in jail now, but he seems to have had quite a few plans to leave London too in case of an emergency. In the last 15 months, he had applied for a citizenship of Vanuatu, an island nation near Australia, sought a permanent residence in Singapore and even discussed the idea of seeking shelter in a third country with top UK law firms, reported the Times of India.
Some reports even suggest that Modi was planning to get a plastic surgery to change his appearance and avoid arrest.
On the other hand, his uncle Mehul Choksi, also involved in the PNB scam, applied for a citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017. And when an Interpol notice was issued against him, Choksi filed representations with the international police body alleging that this was all a part of a "politically motivated probe."