Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank of Rs 13,400 crore and are wanted by both the ED and the CBI.
In a big win for India, Antigua prime minister Gaston Browne on Tuesday said that the country will be revoking the citizenship of diamantaire Mehul Choksi, media reports said today. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs 13,400 crore and are wanted by both the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“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,” Browne was quoted as saying by Antigua Observer.
Antigua PM confirms in a statement fugitive Mehul Choksi’s passport/citizenship will be revoked and repatriated to India. Choksi will be repatriated once he exhausts all options. | @bhavatoshsingh with details. | #ModiCornersChoksi pic.twitter.com/tLw2NOq5g1
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) June 25, 2019
Browne also said that Choksi would be extradited to India once he has exhausted all his legal options. Choksi had left India in the first week of January 2018 and sought the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda. He was granted citizenship and has been living there since.
“We have to allow for due process. He has a matter before the court and as we said to the Indian government, criminals have fundamental rights, too, and Choksi has a right to go to court and defend his position. But I can assure you, after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited,” PM Browne said.
The remarks came as the PM tried to underline the government’s priority to ensure that individuals who will benefit from the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) undergo intense scrutiny. Making a special mention of Choksi, Browne said that his citizenship would be revoked soon.
On being asked about the reports, External affairs minister denied having any information about it and said he would not like to comment on it. However, sources in the government told news agency ANI that India was engaged in talks with Antigua and the extradition process would only start after the Carribbean nation began the internal process of revoking Choksi’s citizenship.
Earlier this week, Choksi had filed an affifavit saying that he was ready to cooperate with the ED if they interrogated him in Antigua or let him appear through video conferencing. He claimed that he has undergone a surgery and is on bed rest. The ED turned down Choksi’s request.