Fugitive diamond Businessman and key accused in bank fraud cases at Punjab National Bank Mehul Choksi surrendered his Indian citizenship and gives up his passport, sources said on Monday. Choksi reportedly fled to Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda.
Choksi, who along with his nephew diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, also a fugitive from India, allegedly committed a fraud on Punjab National Bank amounting to over Rs 13,500 crore, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The move is seen as an attempt to avoid extradition to India, where he is wanted by Multiple agencies for Fraud Loan. However, Sources claimed that surrendering of the passport has no legal consequences since India doesn’t have dual citizenship.
Reports further revealed that Choksi, 59, also submitted 177 dollars with his passport (Z-3396732 ) to the Indian High Commission in Antigua. Officials say he has given his new address as Jolly Harbour Marks, Antigua.
However, India and Antigua do not have a bilateral extradition pact but the government has been trying to bring back the diamond billionaire from Antigua under a law of the island nation that allows it to send back a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country.
Choksi reportedly granted Citizenship in November 2017 but took oath as an Antiguan citizen on January 15 last year.
The 59-year old Mehul Choksi is wanted in the bank fraud of 13,000 crores and has left India in January last year. The International Criminal Police Organization(Interpol) has issued a red corner notice against Mehul Choksi in December last year.
Choksi has told a court in Mumbai that he cannot travel to India as he cannot suffer a 41-hour journey from Antigua because of his poor health. He also said in a written statement that the Enforcement Directorate had misled the court by not revealing his condition and the fact that he had been in touch with banks and wanted to settle his dues.
It was alleged that the two industrialists – Choksi and Nirav Modi extracted loans in crores from foreign banks presenting fake guarantees in the name of Punjab National Bank. Nirav is reportedly to be in London while Choksi in Antigua and Barbuda. India agencies have sent formal requests to both the accused seeking their extradition.
Speaking on the development, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh as quoted by ANI said, ‘Our govt has passed Fugitive Economic Offenders bill. Those who have fled, will be brought back. It might take some time but they all will be brought back’
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on #MehulChoksi : Our govt has passed Fugitive Economic Offenders bill. Those who have fled, will be brought back. It might take some time but they all will be brought back. pic.twitter.com/w3IinkbmlC
— ANI (@ANI) January 21, 2019