Mehul Choksi denied plea to be questioned on PNB fraud in Antigua
A special court in Mumbai denied accused jewellery tycoon Mehul Choksi’s plea to answer questions on the Punjab National Bank fraud in which he is accused from Antigua, stating he must return to India.
On December 19, a Mumbai special court ruled that the Enforcement Directorate will not question Choksi in Antigua and that he is still required to return to India to face questions around his alleged role in the PNB scam, the Press Trust of India reported. In November, Choksi had filed a plea at the Prevention of Money Laundering Act court asking to be questioned in Antigua, citing ill health as the reason he could not travel to India from Antigua, where he has taken citizenship.
The plea also suggested that he could answer questions via a video link and this was also denied. Choksi’s lawyers Vijay Aggarwal and Ashul Agarwal filed two pleas before the court and both were rejected by court judge VC Barde.
Choksi has been accused of fleeing India before news of the over Rs 13,500 crore ($2 billion) fraud broke in the media but Choksi maintains that he left the country to pursue medical treatment and not to avoid prosecution. Choksi has disputed the ED’s evidence against him, stating that most of it is invalid as it relies on photocopies. The ED has in turn disputed Choksi’s submitted medical reports claiming that they do not prove he is unfit to travel.
As Choksi remains in Antigua, Indian authorities are working to secure his extradition. Choksi’s nephew and fellow accused, Nirav Modi, remains in jail in the UK and awaits his extradition trial in 2020.
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