New Delhi: Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam leader Mehul Choksi went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on 23 May. Let me tell you, the process of bringing Choksi to India was going on. Meanwhile, the news of his disappearance has shocked everyone. Fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi has gone missing in Antigua and Barbuda since May 23. Along with his nephew Nirav Modi, he is accused of fraud of Rs 13,500 crore of Punjab National Bank. He is accused of cheating using the Punjab National Bank (PNB), letter of undertaking. The owner of retail jewellery company Gitanjali Group, Choksi acquired citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017 under the aegis of Citizenship by Investment Program and fled to the island nation in the first week of January 2018.
Let me tell you, one who has an Antigua and Barbuda passport gets the benefit of visa-free travel in 132 countries including countries like the UK, Singapore. Speaking to Republic TV, his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said that Choksi went out for dinner in Antigua Island on Sunday, but did not return. While his vehicle was later discovered in Jolly Harbor, he was not traced. Claiming that her family members have no knowledge of her whereabouts and are concerned, Aggarwal said that the local police is investigating the case.
Mehul Choksi’s lawyer issued a statement
Mehul Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Agarwal said, “Mehul Choksi is missing. His family members are worried and he called me to discuss. The Antigua police are investigating. The family is in the dark and concerned about his safety.”
In August 2018, India formally sought the extradition of Choksi under the doctrine of reciprocity, the doctrine of dual criminality and corruption, and under the United Nations Convention against Corruption. To which both countries are signatories. In 2019, PM Gaston Brown of Antigua and Barbuda was heard saying that Mehul Choksi’s citizenship would be revoked and extradited to India after all his legal options were exhausted. The current legal status of the fugitive diamond trader is shrouded in mystery as he is fighting to revoke his citizenship in a civil court, according to a media report. But his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal rejected the claim and said that the accused in the PNB scam remains a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.
Britain court-ordered extradition of Nirav Modi
While delivering the extradition verdict on 25 February, the Westminster Magistrate Court had ordered the extradition of Nirav Modi to India, stating that a prima facie case of money laundering is established. Noting that a letter of agreement was issued between 2011 and 2017 without being lodged in the bank’s CBS system to mislead the authorities. He did not accept that the accused was involved in a legitimate business. At the same time, the judge also rejected the other arguments of the defence (Nirav) lawyer.