Streamlining India’s efforts to repatriate fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, sources report on Saturday that the CBI has 3 teams in UK, India, and Dominica. The first team is assisting Queen’s Counsel and senior advocate Harish Salve in UK, one team is assisting the Ministry of External affairs to comb through documents for deportation while the other team will deal with Dominican authorities. Choksi has been denied bail by the Dominican High Court as he was a ‘flight risk’.
CBI forms 3 teams to repatriate Mehul Choksi
Sources further stated that the agencies are concentrating on various aspects of the case – establishing Mehul Choksi’s citizenship (Antiguan or Indian), the magnitude of the crime of the PNB scam. Furthermore, these teams also comprise of officials from the various security agencies (CBI, ED) and different govt departments like the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External affairs. India has already filed an affidavit in the High Court stating that Choksi is an Indian citizen and is wanted in a Rs 13,000 crore bank scam, highlighting the need to take him back to India. Two impleadment applications – one by CBI and another by MEA too have been filed in the Dominican HC.
Choksi denied bail by Dominica HC
Earlier in the day, Dominican High Court stated that Choksi has no ties to Dominica and the court cannot impose any conditions which will assure it that he wouldn’t abscond. Dominica High Court also pointed out how Choksi proposed that he will stay with his brother in the hotel, but that is not a fixed address. The court also highlighted that Mehul Choksi didn’t offer any strong surety before the court while he sought bail and he’s a flight risk too, noting that his trial has not started yet. Choksi has already been declared a ‘prohibited immigrant’ by the Dominican government on May 25, warning Choksi that he is not allowed to enter Dominica and that the police have been instructed to take all necessary action to have him repatriated.
Mehul Choksi arrested
Mehul Choksi purportedly went “missing” after going out for dinner in Antigua island on May 23 and could not be traced even though his vehicle was traced in the Jolly Harbour later. Following a yellow notice alert, Dominican authorities arrested Choksi for allegedly illegally entering the country via Toucari Beach. While Choksi is seeking to be repatriated to Antigua where he enjoys citizenship, Antigua PM Gaston Browne has now refused to grant him entry in Antigua and asked the Dominican government to directly deport him to India. An eight-member team of the CBI, the ED, and the Ministry of External Affairs had flown to Dominica to pursue the case for Choksi’s deportation, but have now returned to India.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi, have been accused of allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking. Owner of the Gitanjali group, a retail jewellery company, Choksi secured the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017 under the aegis of the Citizenship by Investment Programme and fled to the island nation in the first week of January 2018 and India formally sought Choksi’s extradition in August 2018. While the UK has ordered Modi’s deportation, Choksi is currently housed in Dominica-China Friendship Hospital under police guard after being denied bail.