Fugitive businessman, Mehul Choksi, accused in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank fraud case, has surrendered his Indian citizenship and has handed over his Indian passport in Antigua. It was reported last year that Choksi had taken Antiguan citizenship.
Mehul Choksi, along with his passport has also submitted 177 dollars to the Indian High Commission in Antigua.
It has been reported that it might be an attempt by Chiksi to avoid extradition to India, where he is wanted by several agencies in connection to the PNB fraud.
The foreign ministry had reportedly stated that Mehul Choksi could not have dual citizenship. Though there are no bilateral ties between India and Antigua the government is trying hard to bring back the fugitive from Antigua under an Antiguan law that allows it to send back a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country.
Choksi had moved to Antigua from the United States in July 2018 and had taken the citizenship of the Carribean nation under an investment program.
On January 4, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that it has attached a factory in Thailand worth over Rs 13 crore of a Gitanjali group company, owned by absconding diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, in connection with the alleged $2 billion PNB fraud case.
The ED, after probing and gathering concrete evidence about a Thailand factory, discovered it is owned by Abbeycrest (Thailand) Ltd. which is connected to Choksi’s Geetanjali group of companies. ED said that the attachment has been done under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, and the factory is a beneficiary of the Letters of Understanding (LoUs), that were fraudulently issued from the Punjab National Bank, worth Rs 92.3 crore. ED under the same act had attached various other properties of Choksi last year.
Earlier on December 25, 2018, Choksi has told a court in Mumbai that he cannot travel to India as he cannot suffer a 41-hour journey from Antigua because of his poor health.
In a written statement, he also said that the Enforcement Directorate had misled the court by not revealing his condition and the fact that he had been in touch with banks and wanted to settle his dues.
On December 13, 2018, the International Police Organisation (Interpol) has issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Mehul Choksi on the request of the CBI. Interpol had also issued RCNs against Nirav Modi, his Belgian national sister Purvi Modi and brother Nishal Modi in relation to the scam.
Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi, and others are being probed under various criminal laws, following a complaint from the Punjab National Bank (PNB) alleging that they have cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of Rs 13000 crore, with the purported involvement of some of its employees. The duo has been absconding ever since the case has been registered by the ED and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).