Days after the Indian Government submitted the extradition request for Mehul Choksi to the Antigua & Barbuda foreign ministry, the CBI, probing the case, in a letter sent to the Antiguan Government through the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA), asked the government to arrest Mehul Choksi, the accused in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) case.
The CBI, who had earlier requested the Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) for Choksi when it was trying to ascertain his whereabouts, today asserted that any such notice was not necessary as its a custodial matter with the location of the accused already verified by authorities. The agency further urged that since the location and new citizenship of Choksi are now known, the procedure of his arrest and thereafter extradition should be initiated.
CBI’s letter chooses to mention the red corner notice, specifically because the Antigua government had previously questioned why one had not been issued. Sources in the government also previously hinted that the Antiguan government there was unwilling to act because it does not have a formal treaty with India which would compel them to send Choksi back.
Choksi, the owner of Gitanjali Gems, who reportedly had a ‘loose alliance’ with the Congress, and who had used mob lynching as an excuse to not come back to India after the CBI issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him and his nephew Nirav Modi, claimed of taking Antiguan citizenship last year to expand his business. As per a report, a statement made by Choksi appeared in an Antigua newspaper where he claimed that he has become the country’s citizen via its investment program. In the statement, Choksi claimed that he took this decision to expand his business in the Caribbean and take advantage visa-free travel for 132 countries.
Though the Congress party has been using this as an opportunity to play politics by accusing the government of assisting Nirav Modi (even though the Nirav Modi scam has landed squarely on the Congress’ doorstep as the 20:80 Gold Scheme sanctioned by P Chidambaram had benefitted 13 companies including Mehul Choksi’s firm), the BJP government along with the CBI undeterred by these accusations are tightening all its efforts to bring the multi-crore scammer back to the country, who had defrauded the Punjab National Bank of about $2.2 billion by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal guarantees issued by rogue PNB staff at a Mumbai branch over several years.