The Interpol’s office in Antigua and Bermuda has informed India’s Enforcement Directorate that diamond merchant and bank-fraud accused Mehul Choksi is in Antigua and has sought a local passport, reported PTI on Tuesday. The CBI has written to Antiguan authorities seeking whereabouts of Choksi who along with his nephew and diamond merchant Nirav Modi accused of Rs 13,000 crore scam in the Punjab National Bank, fled the country early this year. The CBI has cited a diffusion notice to seek details of Choksi’s movement and his present location. Meanwhile, Choksi has moved a court in Mumbai for the cancellation of non-bailable warrants against him, mentioning he fears for his life if he is forced to return citing lynching in India.
The Indian government has cancelled the passports of Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi in February this year after the scam of PNB was uncovered. According to reports, Nirav Modi is said to be in Brussels. Choksi and Modi fled the country in January 2018.
Why did Choksi choose Antigua?
Besides the swaying palm trees, white sand beaches and tropical breeze, advantages of Antigua and Barbuda passport are:
- Antigua is among the few tax havens that have no extradition treaty with India.
- Antigua boasts visa-free travel to 132 countries including Canada, Hong Kong, Maldives, Singapore, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.
- Retaining the citizenship isn’t tough either as one needs to reside in Antigua for five days in five years.
According to reports, Choksi took Antigua citizenship in November 2017. The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) has claimed that a ‘robust due diligence international investigation’ was conducted before granting citizenship to Choksi.
How to attain Antigua citizenship?
If you think Choksi have spent a bomb to attain the Antigua passport, then let us tell you that the process to attain the passport is hassle-free and inexpensive. It doesn’t matter whether you were born there or lived in the country, all you have to do is an investment in the development projects in Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship by Investment Program established in 2012 state that a person can seek citizenship by either making an investment in real estate or by making a donation. Below are three options available:
- A contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF) of a non-refundable amount of Rs 1.3 crore.
- Investment of at least Rs 2.7 crore into real estate projects and to be held for a minimum period of five years.
- Investment of Rs 10 crore or more into a business as a sole investor or a joint investor with at least 2 people in a business totaling at least Rs 34 crore.