New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs has written to the government of Antigua and asked them to detain Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in India for a Rs. 13,000 crore bank fraud.
The tiny Caribbean nation had asked India to get a Red Corner Notice issued by the Interpol to facilitate the detention of Choksi who is a citizen of Antigua. India, however, has taken the stand that a Red Corner Notice is needed to locate an absconding person. Since Choksi’s whereabouts are known, a Red Corner Notice will not be required. Now, the latest letter from the CBI, sent to Antigua through the foreign ministry, says, “Since the location and nationality of Mehul Choksi is already known, he should be arrested and the Antigua government should start his extradition process”.
Political observers, however, say the NDA government seems to have missed the bus as far as Choksi is concerned. A TV channel (Times Now) has taken the lid off the pussyfooting and accessed a crucial PMO note to the Foreign Secretary in which it is conceded that multiple agencies were aware of Choksi’s allegedly ‘‘dodgy bank dealings and criminal misdemeanours two years before the controversial businessman fled.’’ According to the channel, multiple agencies which were privy to Choksi’s shady dealings included the Finance Ministry, the MHA, the CBI director, the ED and the SFIO. All this raises awkward questions about a government which was not proactive in ferreting out Choksi from its hideout, the channel has pointed out.
Thanks to the pussyfooting, Choksi is now a citizen of the Caribbean nation and has the audacity to evade arrest on the ground that the charges are ‘‘politically motivated’’. He has also taken the plea that the condition of jails in India is not good and would violate his human rights. Choksi, who is Nirav Modi’s uncle and partner in crime, has also claimed that the charges against him have been hyped by the media and he might not get a fair trial in India as courts may be influenced by news reports, they said.
The promoter of the Gitanjali group, Choksi, had left India in the first week of January, nearly a fortnight before the biggest banking scam was detected in the Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch. He had taken an oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15, 2018, thus completing his citizenship, which was granted to him in November, 2017.