In a dramatic turn of events, fugitive diamantaire and Nirav Modi’s uncle Mehul Choksi has gone missing in Antigua. This was confirmed to the FPJ by his legal team on Tuesday morning.
The prime accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case had fled to Antigua in 2018 after the CBI and the ED initiated an inquiry against him. At that time, he had gone missing in New York.
Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, who is representing Choksi in court, said, "He (Choksi) has gone missing. His family members are disturbed, worried and anxious. I learnt this from the family when they called me to discuss the matter."
"The Antiguan Police is investigating the matter," Aggarwal confirmed further.
According to local Antiguan media, Choksi might have landed in Cuba, another country that has no extradition agreement with India. The buzz is that Choksi went out on Monday evening to have dinner in a restaurant and hasn't returned home since. Later, his car was traced in the harbour area but his whereabouts are not known.
There are sceptics, however, in legal circles who point out that it would be a bad time to relocate during the Covid outbreak; the travel curbs apart, an Interpol red corner notice is also out for him, it is pointed out. But there is a contrarian viewpoint as well, that Choksi, a smooth operator, could use the pandemic as a cover to sneak into another country by sea route.
As per media reports the central agencies have written to the Antiguan embassy in India seeking details of Choksi's whereabouts.
According to Enforcement Directorate, the sudden development won't have any impact on the probe launched by the agency.
"We have learnt from the media about him going missing. However, this would hardly impact our probe," said special ED counsel Hiten Venegaonkar.
"We will continue with our probe and attachment of his properties and other proceedings," Venegaonkar added.
Notably, a special PMLA court here had earlier this month issued a public notice against Nirav Modi, Choksi's nephew, for attaching his properties. Modi is another prime accused in the case and is presently in United Kingdom.
Choksi fled to Antigua as the country has no extradition agreement with India.