Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi's recent shift from Antigua to Dominica has sparked off a furore, even as the Indian authorities amped up efforts for his extradition.
Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, had been living in Antigua and Barbuda since 2018 after taking citizenship. Towards the end of May however he went missing, only to be captured days later in neighbouring Dominica.
While many consider this to be a part of an escape plan, Choksi's family and lawyers insist that he was abducted. And as the debate rages on, Barbara Jarabica's name has repeatedly cropped up.
Choksi’s wife Preeti contends that the mysterious Bulgarian woman was part of an Indian operation to befriend and eventually bring Choksi back to India. She described Jarabica as a frequent visitor to Antigua and suggested that the photo most people knew her by was not correct.
Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Brown appears to hold a slightly different viewpoint, dubbing her Choksi’s girlfriend with whom he travelled voluntarily to Dominica "probably to spend some good time".
Very little is however known about the mysterious Jarabica. Her social media presence is minimal, with a scant following and posts. Her purported LinkedIn profile dubs her a Property Investment Agent from Bulgaria who had previously studied at the London School of Economics. After the LSE issued a statement denying this however, the latter detail was deleted from the profile. In a recent interview with news agency ANI, Jarabica insisted that the two were not involved.
"I was not his girlfriend and he's not my sugar daddy or anything like that. I've my own income and business. I don't need his cash or support, hotel booking, fake jewellery or anything like that,"' she was quoted as saying.
Over the last few days, Jarabica has made repeated appearances on Indian media platforms, participating in interviews and putting forward yet another point of view about his move to Dominica, and contending that it would be "impossible" for a group to kidnap Choksi from the Jolly Harbour area.
"I don't think that Dominica was his final destination. If you ask my opinion, I can be more and more certain that Cuba could have been his (Mehul Choksi) final destination and somehow he wanted to stop by in Dominica maybe," she told ANI.
Jarabica says that she knew Choksi as 'Raj' and that she was unaware of his fugitive status. "I'm European. I live in Europe and I'm not following Indian news. I'm also not following list of fraudsters so I haven't been aware of his real name and background until last week," she said.
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