Antigua Rejects India's Plea to Extradite Mehul Choksi In PNB Scam case

19 Aug 2018 5:29 PM GMT
Antigua Rejects Indias Plea to Extradite Mehul Choksi In PNB Scam case
Image Credits: Financial Express

Despite repeated efforts by India, Government of Antigua and Barbuda refused to arrest or extradite Mehul Choksi to India, relating to the alleged Rs.13,500 crore PNB fraud. The Government also conveyed the Indian High commissioner that it would not stop Mehul Choksi to leave Antigua.

According to the Indian Express, On July 31st, a letter was sent to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and CBI Director Alok Verma byForeign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, who informed that In a meeting which was held where Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne, India High Commissioner, The attorney general and solicitor general of Antigua were present, PM Browne cleared the fact that the Antigua government denied the request from India because there is the absence of extradition treaty between the two countries, so the Govt. of Antigua is protecting Mehul Choksi as its citizen.

India had raised three conditions through the letter – revoke Choksi’s Antiguan passport, detain him immediately, and either deport him to India or begin extradition proceedings. However, Antigua Prime Minister Browne did not pay heed to these demands and claimed that Choksi’s passport could not be revoked as there anything illegal during the procedure of the application of the citizenship in Antigua. Also, there were no shortcomings whatsoever, the letter read.

Browne added that the Antigua government could not detain Choksi, nor it can stop him from visiting other countries of the World. The detainment of the Gitanjali Gems promoter may happen only if India was prosperous in issuing ‘red notice’ against him through Interpol. The application for the same from India’s side is still pending with the Interpol, The Indian Express reported.

An official told the Hindustan Times, “Extradition is a judicial process. So, we need to prove that the crime, for which he is wanted in India, falls under the crimes under which an Antiguan national can be extradited to India.”

According to NDTV, the notification specified that the provisions of India’s Extradition Act, 1962 shall apply to Antigua and Barbuda with retrospective effect from 2001 when the Caribbean nation notified India as designated Commonwealth Country under its extradition law. Despite this, Antigua disagreed to extradite Choksi because of the absence of the extradition pact, and the fact that Choksi has lawfully secured citizenship of Antigua.NDTV also reported that his citizenship was confirmed way back in November 2017.

Background

Mehul Chinubhai Choksi is an alleged mastermind behind India’s biggest banking fraud which involved Choksi and his companies who would avail credit from overseas branches of Indian banks with the help of guarantees from Punjab National Bank. PNB would grant the guarantee through letters of undertaking (LoU). A LoU is a Letter of Undertaking issued by drawer’s bank to Indian bank having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant. These letters were not repaid by Choksi and companies which imposed complete liability on PNB.

His nephew Nirav Modi is equally involved in the case, and the probe against the two is underway.

Also Read Rs 13,500 Crore PNB Fraud Accused Mehul Choksi Now Citizen Of Antigua, Gets Local Passport

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