UK court rejects bail for diamond tycoon sought in India

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Journalists gather outside court after Indian diamond tycoon Nirav Modi was denied bail at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Friday, March 29, 2019. Modi has been denied bail in London after Indian authorities alleged he was involved in a 1.8 billion US Dollar bank fraud. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A court in London has rejected bail for diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood.

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Judge Emma Arbuthnot decided on Friday that Modi was a flight risk. The 48-year-old was detained more than a year after Indian authorities alleged he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud. Modi is fighting extradition to India.

Indian authorities have sought Modi's arrest 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. Modi denies the allegations.

The son of a diamond merchant, Modi built an international jewelry empire that stretched from India to New York and Hong Kong before the allegations were levelled.