Former Indian diamond merchant, one of the key person who allegedly involved in multi-million Pound Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, Mehul Choksi who moved to the island nation, Antigua and Barbuda has given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport, media reports said on Monday (21) citing sources.
Choksi has fled to Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda last year in a bid to avoid legal proceedings against him by investigators in India in connection with PNB fraud case.
According to India’s federal investigation agency, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Choski left India along with his close relative celebrity jeweller, Nirav Modi, another fugitive from the country allegedly responsible for the fraud at state-run PNB amounting more than Rs 135 billion.
The accused became a citizen of the tiny nation, under a programme in which certain amount of investment enables individuals to obtain citizenship. According to the probe agencies, Choksi started his move to obtain citizenship of the island nation in 2018, before he moved out of his country during the first week of January 2018.
The PNB fraud came into light after the two main accused Modi and Choski moved out of India in a bid to avoid possible legal proceedings against them.
The Antigua government soon after learning about Choksi’s alleged involvement in the fraud case, stated that it would respect any legitimate request to extradite Choksi from its territory. Thus, Choksi could be extradited even if he has gone beyond the reach of investigators by getting himself in the new country.
India’s law enforcement and economic intelligence agency Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also filed petitions to have both Choksi and Modi declared as fugitives under India’s new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act after the duo left India.
Choksi in reply to the Indian investigators’ petition to declare him as a fugitive economic offender, had blamed the “fiasco” on the “mismanagement of the public sector bank”. He had also rejected all allegations made against him in connection with the PNB fraud case.
Last December, CBI secured an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against Choksi which is still seen as a big boost to India’s efforts to bring back the accused to India.