Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi embroiled in new case
today Feb 6, 2019
The fugitive jewellery tycoon Mehul Choksi has been accused of another crime, this time concerning a land deal and failure to set up a special economic zone as agreed. The Panvel Tehsildar office is investigating the case.
TNN reported that Mehul Choksi is under investigation for land deals dating back to 2008 and reportedly purchased land along with his associates to form a diamond special economic zone that was never created. As Choksi himself bought the land, not his business Gitanjali Gems Limited as was initially agreed, this violates SEZ regulations. The 25 acres of land that Choksi owns in Panvel along with his associates is valued at around Rs 300 crore ($45 million) at current market rates.
According to SEZ regulations, Choksi had to purchase the land, which included two green zones, through his business within two years of his initial purchase and then put the land to industrial use within five years. As Choksi failed to do this, the land should be offered to the original owners to purchase back at the same price but this has not happened. The Panvel Tehsildar office will continue to investigate the case.
Choksi is currently residing in Antigua after fleeing India before news of the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud scandal in which he is a key accused broke. Although Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda through the investment route and has taken steps to give up his Indian citizenship, the government has asserted its commitment to extraditing Choksi to India to stand trial.
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