After massive diplomatic pressure from India, the Antiguan government on Tuesday, June 25, agreed to revoke the citizenship of fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi following which he will be repatriated to India.
The recent development came after Antiguan PM Gaston Browne issued a statement saying, "His citizenship was processed; he got through but the reality is his citizenship will be revoked and he will be repatriated to India; so there is recourse. It's not a case that we are trying to provide any safe harbour for criminals, for those who are involved in financial crimes."
Replying to the Antiguan government, India said that the country is waiting for Antigua's internal process of revoking the citizenship of Mehul Choksi after which the extradition process can start. The Ministry of External affairs is yet to hear officially from the Antiguan government about the development.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar refused to comment on the matter.
The extradition process of the absconding diamantaire started in March following which the Antiguan PM said that Choksi has the right to defend his position. "But I can assure you after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited," the PM said. Browne also stated that the matter is currently before the court and a due process needs to be followed.
Choksi, an accused in the Rs 13,400 crore Punjab National Bank scam, is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly defrauding PNB. His nephew Nirav Modi is another key accused in the scam. It was in 2018 last year that the multi-crore fraud came to light. Both the accused Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are absconding since the case was registered by the ED and the CBI.
Choksi is currently based in the Caribbean nation of Antigua. Earlier, he had filed an affidavit through his advocate Vijay Aggarwal, stating he had left the country in for getting medical check-up and treatment abroad and not to avoid prosecution in the case.