Island countries like that of West Indies, are a safe haven for Indian economic offenders like diamantaire Mehul Choksi and Winsome Diamonds promoter Jatin Mehta, as the country lacks a proper extradition treaty with them. However, reports have emerged that India government has commissioned long-range Air India Boeing to deport these economic offenders back to the country.
A long-range #AirIndia #Boeing has been commissioned for the #Caribbean to pick up economic perps #mehulchoksi and #JatinMehta of winsome #Diamonds . #CBI and #EnforcementDirectorate officials will fly to the #WestIndies to bring these persons back.
Photo: IANS pic.twitter.com/CkyAyITDFX
— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) January 26, 2019
Countries like Dominica and St Lucia, provide visa and passports for $100,000 to any person taking haven there. It, therefore, has become, a magnet for economic offenders of India. Jatin Mehta is currently in a self-imposed exile in Dominica and St Lucia, and Mehul Choksi has chosen Antigua and Barbuda as the haven. These island countries also provide free visa travel to 12 countries.
According to reports, sleuths of Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate have been given charge of the mission. Their prime targets, according to reports, are Mehul Choksi, Jatin Mehta and Nirav Modi. However, it is not clear whether Nirav Modi too resides in the Caribbean islands. Last year, in December, Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh (Retd.) had informed parliament that Nirav Modi, is currently hiding in the United Kingdom. It is believed that he will be extradited from the return route from Europe
Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi have been absconding after both were found complicit in Punjab National Bank fraud that surfaced earlier last year. According to the bank, the fugitives had allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank. Mehul Choksi surrendered his Indian passport and citizenship to Indian embassy, earlier this month.
The case of Jatin Mehta is also not much different. His firms like Winsome, Su-Raj & Forever Diamonds used to enjoy high credit from India Banks. Indian Banks also issued standby letters of credit, similar to guarantees on behalf of Mehta to International banks, which used to supply gold to Winsome group. However, in 2012, Jatin Mehta declared that his firms cannot repay the debts, as its customers in UAE had suffered a huge loss and were unable to pay him. Banks like Punjab National Bank suffered a whopping loss Rs 1700 crores due to this. In the wake of this, Jatin Mehta fled India in 2016.
Indian investigative agencies have left no stone unturned to bring back the economic offenders and fugitives. Last year they successfully extradited Christian Michel from UAE, for his alleged involvement in the UPA-era AgustaWestland scam. Another success came in the form of the verdict from London’s Magistrate court, when it accepted pleas by India authorities to extradite back Vijay Mallya, wanted in connection with economic frauds with Indian banks.