Negating the rumours that fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi has fled to Cuba, his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal on Tuesday said he is a 'valid citizen' of Antigua and had no "legal impediment, constraint or risk" in the island country.
The lawyer said that he was informed by Choksi's family that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has joined the Antigua police in the investigation to search for Choksi.
"The reports of him missing are genuine. I had received a call from his family also, and now the Antiguan police have also confirmed it. I have been told by his family that Antigua Police and CID are investigating. The family is in shock and worried. Everyone is clueless about his whereabouts," said Aggarwal while talking to ANI.
Denying rumours of Choksi leaving Antigua, the lawyer said he had no reason to go anywhere.
"He is a valid citizen of Antigua. He had no legal impediment, constraint or risk in Antigua. Moreover, in Antigua, by challenging the constitutional validity of the Antiguan Extradition Act and Antiguan Citizenship Act, we have taken a stay on even the processing of any extradition request sent from India or to be sent from India," said Aggarwal.
Choksi's lawyer reiterated that he would not leave Antigua because "Red Corner Notice (RCN) has been issued and if he tries to cross any (international) borders, he can be apprehended and the Indian government can be informed." When asked about further course of action, the lawyer said Choksi needs to be found before proceeding. "I am hoping we will have some updates by today evening and tomorrow morning," he added.
Earlier on March 1, denying media reports regarding the revocation of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi's citizenship by an Antiguan civil court, his advocate Vijay Aggarwal told ANI that Choksi is still very much an Antiguan citizen and his citizenship has not been revoked.
"My client Mehul Choksi has clarified that he is very much an Antiguan citizen. His citizenship has not been revoked," Aggarwal told ANI.
There were media reports in Antigua that the police have launched a manhunt for Mehul Choksi. It was reported that Choksi left his home on Monday evening to go for dinner at a well-known restaurant in the southern part of the island and was never seen again. His vehicle was discovered in Jolly Harbour later in the evening, but there was no sign of him, reported Antiguan newsroom.
Media reports had earlier surfaced saying that, Choksi was fighting revocation of his citizenship in an Antiguan civil court as Antigua cancelled his citizenship sometime last year.
Earlier, Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had said, the citizenship of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, an accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank scam, will be revoked and he will be extradited to India once all his legal options are exhausted.
Choksi has been involved in a legal battle to stop his extradition to India to answer fraud charges against him. Police are yet to state the matter, reported the Antiguan newsroom.
Mehul Choksi was the owner of Geetanjali jewellers and is involved in an economic fraud case of over Rs 13,000 crore and siphoning off the money illegally. CBI has filed several cases against him and investigations are underway, including his extradition request.
(With inputs from ANI)