Antigua PM Gaston Browne has agreed to revoke the citizenship of billionaire diamond merchant Mehul Choksi after diplomatic pressure from India. Mehul Choksi is a key accused in the INR₹ 13,400 crore bank fraud with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) in India. Mehul Choksi’s fled to Antigua, and the Caribbean island managed to process his citizenship application easily.
The PM of Antigua has said it is not a case that we are trying to provide any safe harbour to criminals and those who are involved in financial crimes. Browne added that once Mehul Choksi has exhausted all his legal options, he will be extradited to India.
“Choksi’s citizenship was processed, he got through. We do have recourse, the reality is that his citizenship will be revoked and he will be deported to India. Presently the matter is before the court, so we have to allow for due process. We have conveyed to the Indian government that criminals also have fundamental rights and Choksi has a right to go to court to defend his position. But I can assure you, after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited,” Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne said.
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) back in India for allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank in collusion with a few employees of the government-run lender.
Both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi had fled the country before the multi-crore fraud came to light in 2018.
Mehul Choksi told the Bombay High Court through his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal, that he left India for medical check-up and not to avoid prosecution in the case.
ED had told the Bombay High Court that it was ready to provide an air ambulance to bring the billionaire Mehul Choksi for trial.
Source : Various