Mehul Choksi pleads innocence in PNB fraud case in new statement from lawyers

On March 27, fugitive jewellery tycoon Mehul Choksi released a statement through his lawyers pleading his innocence in the Punjab National Bank fraud case. Choksi denies any involvement.

Mehul Choksi has issued a new statement claiming his innocence in the PNB fraud case - Gitanjali Gems- Facebook

Choksi’s statement issued by his lawyers stated that the charges made against him by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation were based on "an old and dated 'Know Your Customer' document" submitted by him to the Punjab National Bank in 1995, as reported by the Press Trust of India. Choksi stated that he was not a partner in any of the firms linked to the fraud, maintaining that he had ceased to work at the businesses in 2000. Choksi’s business Gitanjali Gems, which he currently owns, has also denied any wrongdoing. 

"Mr Choksi had sought to correct the details of this KYC on several occasions. He was not a partner in any of the firms under scrutiny for the purported scam being investigated at that time. In fact, Mr Choksi had quit all these firms way back in 2000," read the statement. 

Choksi stated that he is unable to repay any outstanding loans to the PNB because his assets are frozen as part of the case. "In such a scenario, Mr Choksi cannot be expected to service any outstanding loans. Mr. Choksi has banked with the PNB for over 25 years, and not once in the said period has he defaulted on a single loan. He doesn't intend to do so now," read the statement.

"Mr Choksi had called up PNB officials as well and was given the impression that the issue could be amicably resolved. PNB chose to ignore these repeated requests and calls, instead the bank went so far as to make this old and out of date KYC document the very basis of their allegations," the statement said. The statement also blamed the PNB for covering up its own shortcomings in the matter.

“They [the PNB] targeted and destroyed a Rs 12,000 crore business that had been built up over a period of 25 years. With brands like Nakshatra, Ginni, Asmi, and Gitanjali, Mr Choksi occupied a huge space in the public imagination and the gems and jewellery business in India. By tarring such a brand, PNB attempted to divert attention from its own shenanigans elsewhere," read the statement.

Calling the investigation a “malicious case,” Choksi stated that the PNB has not supplied sufficient evidence. Choksi is still refusing to return to India to stand trial, having left the country before the scandal came to light.

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