New Delhi: Fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi, who was granted Antiguan citizenship last year, shouldn’t be allowed to travel by air, land or sea, India has requested authorities in Antigua and Barbuda amid reports of his presence in the Caribbean island.
“As soon as the ministry of external affairs received information of the likely presence of Mehul Choksi in Antigua, the High Commission in Georgetown alerted the Antigua and Barbuda government, in writing and verbally, to confirm his presence in their territory and detain him and prevent his movement by land, air or sea,” a government source said.
Mehul Choksi had fled India in the first week of January and taken an oath of allegiance as a citizen of Antigua on January 15. Days later, on January 29, the CBI filed a case and started investigating Mehul Choksi and his nephew, celebrity jeweller Nirav Modi, over a Rs13,500 crore fraud that involved fake guarantees in the name of India’s second-largest government bank PNB, or Punjab National Bank, to facilitate overseas loans.
India cancelled the passports of both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi in February. Mehul Choksi has refused to return to India, saying he fears “mob lynching”. Last week, Mehul Choksi claimed he had taken Antiguan citizenship to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries. The citizenship came for a little over Rs1.3 crore, not such a big amount for some accused of fraud running into thousands of crores.
- India cancelled the passports of both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi in February.
- Mehul Choksi has refused to return to India, saying he fears “mob lynching”.
Cambridge Analytica’s parent firm helped Choksi get Antigua citizenship: Report
- SCL Elections, the parent company of scandal-hit Cambridge Analytica, helped fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi get a citizenship of Antigua, says a media report. As per the report, London-based firm – Henley and Partners – which helped Mehul get his citizenship has close links with SCL Elections.
- Henley & Partners designs, implements and promotes citizenship-by-investment schemes. SCL elections and Cambridge Analytica are linked to Henley & Partners, a report by the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee disinformation said.
Antiguan govt, if requested, ready to ‘extradite’ Choksi
- Antigua is among the many tax havens in the Caribbeans and has no extradition treaty with India, which makes it harder to chase the runaway diamond businessman.
- The Antiguan authorities, however, say that Mehul Choksi’s request for citizenship would have been rejected if they had known about the charges against him in the PNB scam.
- ‘We would not have, and I want to be very clear, we would not have granted him citizenship of Antigua Barbuda had we known of the situation,’ Greene said.
- It is ready to ‘honour any legitimate request’ to extradite Mehul Choksi, the Antiguan government said and stressed it would not allow the absence of a treaty stand in the way. But India is yet to send a request.