A day after the fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, one of the prime accused in the PNB fraud case, was spotted in Dominica’s capital city of Roseau at the Canefield beach, disposing of some documents in the sea, his lawyer has alleged that he was ‘abducted’ from Antigua on Sunday and transported by boat to Dominica.
Filing a habeas corpus petition in Dominica, Choksi’s legal team alleged that there are “marks of torture” on his body.
The fugitive’s counsel further claimed that the fugitive diamantaire had narrated his ‘horrifying experience’ of being kidnapped from Jolly Harbour during the 2-minute window reportedly granted to a lawyer by the Dominican authorities.
“Our lawyer in Dominica was allowed access to him (Mehul Choksi) only for two minutes. He (Choksi) reported his horrifying experience. He narrated that he was picked up by various people from Jolly Harbour in Antigua and taken to Dominica. He was taken forcibly,” lawyer Vijay Aggarwal was quoted as saying by ANI.
Our lawyer in Dominica was allowed access to him only for 2-minutes. Mr Choksi reported his horrifying experience. He narrated that he was picked up by various people from Jolly Harbour in Antigua & taken to Dominica. He was taken forcibly: Mehul Choksi’s lawyer pic.twitter.com/Awt52gvgDC— ANI (@ANI) May 27, 2021
Dominican authorities had arrested Choksi on Wednesday for entering the country “illegally” from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been living since January 2018. As per reports, he had gone ‘missing’ from Antigua earlier this week where he is a citizen. However, he has since been traced to Dominica.
‘Missing’ Mehul Choksi spotted disposing some documents at a beach in Dominica
The ‘missing’ ex-diamantaire was spotted in Dominica’s capital city of Roseau at the Canefield beach where he was disposing of some documents at sea. Police got suspicious and approached him. When he was asked about his purpose to visit Dominica, he refused to answer. Professional scuba divers are deployed to scour the sea to retrieve the documents he appeared to be getting rid of. He was reportedly planning to flee to Cuba upon arriving illegally in Dominica.
Dominica says will send back Mehul Choksi to Antigua, not India
After Choksi was arrested in Dominica, it was speculated that he will be extradited to India. However, the hopes of repatriating PNB Bank scam accused Mehul Choksi to India was soon dimmed as Dominica said that they will send him back to Antigua, not India.
This was almost confirmed after Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne had said that he does not want Choksi in his country back, and requested Dominica govt to send him to India instead. Mehul Choksi is a citizen of Antigua.
But a press release issued by the Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs of Dominica has rejected that request from Antigua. Even though Dominica identified Mehul Choksi as a citizen of India, they said that will make arrangements to repatriate him to Antigua.
Meanwhile, Choksi’s counsel Vinay Agarwal also claimed that they were trying their best to bring Mehul Choksi back to his country of origin ‘Antigua’. Citing the Indian Citizenship Act, Agarwal argued that the PNB accused’d Indian citizenship had ceased after he acquired citizenship of Antigua and claimed that he could only be deported to Antigua, and not India.
As per Indian Citizenship Act, the moment Mehul Choksi acquired citizenship of Antigua he ceased to be an Indian citizen. As per Immigration&Passport Act he can be deported only to Antigua: Mehul Choksi’s counsel Vijay Aggarwal on reports of Choksi’s deportation directly to India pic.twitter.com/WDW6UdsxpW— ANI (@ANI) May 27, 2021
The 13,600 crore PNB bank fraud
Choksi, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, are accused of perpetrating bank fraud worth Rs 13,600 crore on Punjab National Bank. The fraud came to light in 2018 and he along with his nephew have been on the run since. While Modi is currently in the UK, Choksi was in Antigua.
Recently, a UK court had ruled that his nephew Nirav Modi will be extradited to India from the UK to face charges of conspiring to defraud PNB. Choksi faces charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty, including delivery of property, corruption and money laundering.