India asks Antigua to detain Mehul Choksi

Choksi’s presence in Antigua and Barbuda reported

New Delhi.

India had requested the authorities in Antigua and Barbuda to detain PNB fraud fugitive Mehul Choksi after it received information about his presence in the Caribbean island, people in the government said on Monday.

India was in touch with the island nation following reports of Choksi’s presence there and had requested the authorities there to restrict his movements by land, sea and air, said the people, requesting anonymity.

“As soon as the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) received information of the likely presence of Mehul Choksi in Antigua, our High Commission in Georgetown had alerted the A&B (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,” one of the people quoted above said.

Choksi has reportedly claimed he had taken Antiguan citizenship last year to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries.

“Our high commissioner is meeting the relevant authorities in the A&B government today. We continue to liaise with relevant agencies to follow up on this matter,” the person said.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after it was detected that they allegedly cheated the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of more than ₹ 13,400 crore with the purported involvement of a few of the lender’s employees.

The PNB fraud, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected on 14 February, after which bank executives reported the matter to the investigation agencies. Choksi and Nirav Modi fled India in January this year, nearly a fortnight before the scam was detected. Choksi’s passport was revoked in February 2018.

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