Choksi in 'Antigua', blow to CBI hopes

Diamond merchant and bank-fraud accused Mehul Choksi has moved to Antigua and Barbuda and obtained a local passport, sources in the security agencies said on Tuesday.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 25.07.18
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Mehul Choksi. Source: ABP News

New Delhi: Diamond merchant and bank-fraud accused Mehul Choksi has moved to Antigua and Barbuda and obtained a local passport, sources in the security agencies said on Tuesday.

"Antigua is one of many tax havens in the Caribbean. We have no extradition treaty with these small countries, so Choksi might remain a fugitive forever," a Union home ministry official said.

Choksi and his nephew and fellow diamantaire Nirav Modi, accused of cheating Punjab National Bank out of more than Rs 13,000 crore, had fled the country early this year.

Choksi had moved a court in Mumbai on Monday seeking the cancellation of the non-bailable warrants against him, citing the growing trend of lynchings in India to say he feared for his life if forced to return.

"Interpol has informed us that Choksi fled the US on July 8 and is now in Antigua. He has obtained a local passport," a security official said.

The home ministry official said Choksi had enough money to "buy citizenship" in some of the Caribbean nations.

"Citizenship is on sale in some of these countries. Some of them offer citizenship for $250,000 (Rs 1.7 crore), which is a paltry amount for Choksi," he said.

On June 29, Interpol had issued a red-corner notice against Nirav, his brother Nishal and his employee Parab Subhash Shankar. But the CBI request for one against Choksi, the Gitanjali Group promoter, is still under process.

A red notice is a "request" to the 192 member countries "to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition", but it is not binding.

Nirav had continued to travel around the world with his revoked passport till last month.