In a massive win for Modi Government, Mehul Choksi, one of the key accused in the PNB scam is expected to be soon extradited to India. According to media reports, the Antiguan government is all set to revoke Choksi’s Citizenship. The revocation of citizenship paves the way for his extradition to India soon. This step by the Antiguan authorities comes after massive diplomatic pressure from India. Taking note of the issue Antiguan, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the country will not be providing any safe harbor to criminals and also those involved in Financial Crimes.
Choksi’s citizenship was processed, he got through. We do have recourse, the reality is that his citizenship will be revoked and he will be deported to India,” the PM has said,
“Presently the matter is before the court, so we have to allow for due process. We have conveyed to the Indian government that criminals also have fundamental rights and Choksi has a right to go to court to defend his position. But I can assure you, after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited,” said the Antiguan Prime Minister.
Mehul Choksi and nephew Nirav Modi are wanted by multiple agencies in India over charges of fraud of Rs 13,600 crore through fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoU) and foreign letters of credit. Their company, Gitanjali Gems Ltd, got a letter of undertaking, or LoU (essentially a bank guarantee against which another lender gives a foreign currency loan), from Brady House PNB branch, Mumbai without any collateral with the help of a senior bank official who also has been charged in the case. When the senior official retired, Gitanjali jems again applied for a LoU but some other bank official refused to give it without collateral. Later on, an internal investigation in the PNB revealed that many LoUs were issued to Gitanjali Gems without any collateral. According to the investigation agencies, both of them have inflated the value of diamonds, pearls, and jewelry which they have in their stores. ED found the value of the stock inflated three times in case of Modi’s firms and about 10 times in the case of Choksi’s firms.
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi left the country in January, a few weeks before the scam broke in media. The case against Modi and Choksi is registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) which allows for the confiscation and seizure of properties obtained from the laundered money. The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) had also issued a red corner notice (RCN) against the absconding billionaire, Mehul Choksi. CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal had said, “The Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice against Mehul Choksi on the request of CBI.”
Sensing his imminent extradition, Mehul Choksi had recently told the Bombay High Court that he left India for medical check-up and not to avoid prosecution in the case. This extradition will surely mark India’s success as a diplomatic power to prosecute economic offenders across international borders.