By Poonam Joshi
London [UK], May 14 (ANI): The extradition trial of the fugitive diamond dealer Nirav Modi continued at a London court on Thursday with evidence from a jewellery expert about the "phenomenal" growth of the Nirav Modi brand, which was described as unparalleled in India.
Richard Taylor, a gemmologist and veteran jewellery industry consultant, told Westminster Magistrate's Court that the success enjoyed by Modi and his company was comparable to that seen by western brands.
"The speed of success of the brand was unprecedented. It was truly enormous growth," Taylor told the court, especially between the period between 1999 and 2010.
According to Taylor, that success can be attributed to a number of factors but most notably the growth of the diamond and jewellery trade in India as well as the business acumen and quality of Modi's brand.
"The Nirav Modi brand should be put in the context of the success of the trade-in India and the steam train that was the diamond and jewellery business in India. Even just 30 years ago the penetration the Indian market had in terms of diamond cutting and polishing was insignificant. Today they are the largest and most important centre in diamond cutting," said Taylor.
"The biggest difference between Modi and his competitors was that he diversified the business into a number of different strands and created a vertically integrated business from the buying and cutting and polishing of gems to creating a world-renowned consumer retail brand," Taylor added.
That "phenomenal" growth and how it was financed is at the heart of the Indian government's allegations against Modi who is facing charges of defrauding the state-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) of more than Rs 11,000 crore as well as charges of money laundering.
The growth of the Modi brand was financed at first by a gush of cheap borrowing and then by fraud, it is alleged.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in India, Modi, 49, and a number of companies affiliated to him made fraudulent use of a credit facility - known as Letters of Undertaking (LoUs) -- issued by PNB.
It is alleged that, in collusion with a number of PNB employees, Modi conspired to obtain the LoUs without meeting the necessary requirements such as credit checks and by withholding the commission that was due to the PNB.
District Judge Samuel Mark Goozee is expected to rule on whether the Indian government has a 'prima facie' case against Modi, who remains detained at Wandsworth Prison in South London and who appeared in court - as did other participants - via videolink due to the social distancing rules currently in place in the UK.
While the video link system has worked largely well, it has certainly provided several moments of levity to proceedings over the course of the week. Today, the hearing was disrupted several times by advertisements and court announcements that were played to participants of the video call each time they logged on.
The court will hear a second extradition request in September relating to the destruction or disappearance of evidence as well as intimidating witnesses, allegedly instigated by Modi and his associates. (ANI)