Prime Minister's Office seeks information on Mehul Choksi to facilitate his extradition from Antigua
As Indian authorities are working to initiate the extradition process of the fugitive jewellery tycoon Mehul Choksi from Antigua to India, the Prime Minister’s Office is researching any pending inquiries made into Choksi in 2017.
Mehul Choksi, who is accused of playing a major part in the Rs 13,500 crore ($2 billion) fraud at the Punjab National Bank along with his business Gitanjali Gems, was recently discovered to be residing in Antigua. Choksi has successfully taken Antiguan citizenship and so this makes his potential extradition to India to stand trial more difficult.
In order to find potential grounds for Choksi’s extradition, the PMO has compiled a list of any complaints or petitions made against Choksi in 2017 before he left for Antigua. This list of complaints has been forwarded by the PMO to all ministries and agencies that are concerned with financial irregularities. The PMO produced a note that was seen by the Press Trust of India that stated that the Home and Finance Ministries, the Enforcement Directorate, and the Central Bureau of Information, among others have all been contacted and asked to find out whether there was any pending action or inquiry against Choksi in 2017.
If there were pending investigations for Choksi from May 2017 until November 2017 when he was granted citizenship, it could mean that Choksi lied when obtaining Antiguan citizenship and this would give strong grounds for his extradition. Choksi reportedly submitted a clearance certificate made by the Mumbai police to prove his business’ legality when applying for Antiguan citizenship as well as a Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) clean chit but SEBI has denied giving Choksi such a document and denies that he approached them.
The Central Bureau of Investigation also recently reported to the Ministry of External Affairs that India can still seek Choksi’s extradition even if no Red Corner Notice is issued against him.
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