NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Lisa Haydon, Nirav Modi and Nimrat Kaur attend the Nirav Modi U.S. Boutique grand opening at Nirav Modi Boutique on September 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Nirav Modi, an Indian diamond billionaire at the heart of a major fraud case, is claiming political asylum in the UK following fraud allegations, according to the Financial Times.

According to the newspaper, the jeweller – who went missing in February after allegations emerged of him being at the centre of a $2bn bank fraud in his home country – has fled to London.

Nirav Modi is reported to be claiming asylum from what he said was “political persecution”.

Advertisement

The Financial Times cites officials from both the UK and India as its sources.

Earlier this year India’s second-largest state-run bank, Punjab National Bank (PNB), claimed two jewellery groups headed by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi, had defrauded it of around $2.2bn by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.

Since the allegations emerged the jeweller has been on the run, and his stores in India have been closed, while assets including bank accounts and luxury cars have been seized.

The Home Office has not commented, saying it does not remark on individual cases.