Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who was captured in Dominica after fleeing from neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda, may be extradited directly to India. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told news agency ANI that Choksi will be repatriated to India and Indian authorities are in touch with their counterparts in Dominica.
Browne told ANI that Choksi may have entered illegally into Dominica, possibly by boat. Dominican government, he said, is cooperating with Antiguan & Indian governments. “Choski will be deported from Dominica.”
“We have asked the Dominican government to detain him for entering their country illegally, to make him persona non grata and have him deported directly to India,” ANI reported while quoting Antiguan PMO.
Browne said that Antigua will not accept Choksi back. He has requested Dominica PM Skerrit and law enforcement to not return Choksi to Antigua where he has legal and constitutional protection as citizen.
“We have requested that he be detained and to make arrangements with the Dominican government to have him returned to India,” he told ANI.
Choksi is currently in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica, according to Antigua media.
To a question if Choksi has obtained Dominican citizenship, he said, “I am pretty sure. I am not aware that he is a citizen of Dominica and that he’d have enjoyed any constitutional protection, so on that basis it will be easy for Dominica to deport him.”
“Dominica has agreed (for Mehul Choksi’s repatriation). We will not accept him back. He made a monumental error by skipping island. Dominican government and law enforcement are cooperating and we have informed Indian government to have him repatriated to India,” he said.
Choksi had been living in Antigua but he fled the country on Sunday. A massive manhunt was launched and an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued by Antigua and Barbuda. He was traced and captured in neighbouring Dominica.
Meanwhile, Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal told ANI that he has spoken to the fugutive businessman’s family, and “they are happy and relieved that his whereabouts are now known”.
“Efforts are being made to speak to him so that one can know the clearer picture of how he was taken to Dominica,” he said.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking.
While Modi is in a London prison after repeated denial of bail and is contesting extradition to India, Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme, before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018. The scam came to light subsequently. Both are facing a CBI probe.