Rs 13,500 Crore PNB Fraud Accused Mehul Choksi Now Citizen Of Antigua, Gets Local Passport
According to the Press Trust of India reports, diamond trader Mehul Choksi who is wanted for bank fraud has moved to Antigua and obtained a local passport. Mehul Choksi along with his nephew Nirav Modi is wanted for a Rs 13,500 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank. Nirav Modi is said to have absconded to the capital of Belgium, Brussels.
Authorities had issued non-bailable warrants against them, while the Interpol had issued a red corner notice on them. PTI reported that after receiving the Interpol notice, the Antiguan authorities informed the Enforcement Directorate that Mehul Choksi immigrated in July and had taken the passport of Antigua. Antigua is among the many tax havens in the Caribbean and has no extradition treaty with India, which makes it harder to chase the runaway diamond businessman. Indian investigators suspect that Choksi might have bought the citizenship of Antigua paying about Rs. 1.3 to 1.7 crore – and received a passport from the country. With that passport, he can travel freely.
According to reports the centre’s probe agency, Enforcement Directorate had requested a Mumbai court to declare both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi as ‘fugitive economic offenders’ and their assets worth Rs 3,500 crores be confiscated.
As per reports Mehul Choksi had earlier pleaded with a Mumbai court to cancel non-bailable warrants issued against him. Mehul Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali gems touted mob lynching trend in India as his reason for not surrendering in India. An application filled at the Mumbai anti-corruption court on Monday stated “There have been various cases of mob lynching in India. This recent trend of mob lynching and general public giving justice on the road is growing. Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Mr Choksi)”. The application also states that Mehul Choksi is afraid that his former employees and debtors may harm him, and that he would not be safe even in jail with other inmates.
According to NDTV reports, the two men along with their families escaped from India in January 2018, before their huge fraud at the Punjab National Bank came to light. The scam which took place between 2011 and 2017, gained the attention of the authorities in January this year after PNB reported it to Central Investigation Agency. The CIA discovered that they had cheated the bank of more than Rs. 13,400 crore over seven years with the knowledge and collaboration of some of the employees.