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India seizes $180M in jewels from fugitive diamond merchants

FILE- In this Feb. 16, 2018 file photo, activists of India's opposition Congress party's youth wing shout slogans against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as one of them holds a severed head from a cut out photograph of billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi in New Delhi, India. Indian authorities say they have brought from Hong Kong polished diamonds and pearls worth millions of dollars belonging to India’s fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi who is fighting a court battle in London for his extradition to New Delhi.  (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)
FILE- In this Feb. 16, 2018 file photo, activists of India's opposition Congress party's youth wing shout slogans against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as one of them holds a severed head from a cut out photograph of billionaire jeweler Nirav Modi in New Delhi, India. Indian authorities say they have brought from Hong Kong polished diamonds and pearls worth millions of dollars belonging to India’s fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi who is fighting a court battle in London for his extradition to New Delhi. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian authorities have seized diamonds, pearls and silver jewelry worth millions of dollars as part of an investigation of a fugitive diamond merchant who is being held in London while fighting his extradition.

The seized valuables worth 13.5 billion rupees ($180 million) had been kept in a logistics company's warehouse in Hong Kong after being taken there from Dubai in 2018, India’s Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, said in a statement late Wednesday.

The jewels and gems belonged to Nirav Modi, whose jewels once adorned stars from Bollywood to Hollywood, and his uncle Mehul Choksi, who also fled India and is living in Antigua.

Modi is being held without bail. He was arrested by British authorities last year, more than a year after Indian authorities alleged he was involved in a $1.8 billion bank fraud. He left the country in early 2018 and started living in London.

Indian authorities have sought his extradition to face prosecution, claiming that the companies Nirav Modi controlled defrauded the state-owned Punjab National Bank by using fake financial documents to get loans to buy and import jewels.

Associated Press

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