Mehul Choksi to be handed over to India, says Antiguan PM Gaston Browne
Financial scam-accused Mehul Choksi, apprehended in Dominica is likely to be repatriated straight to India as Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told news agency ANI that Antigua will not accept him back. Browne said he has requested PM Skerrit and law enforcement in Dominica to not return Choksi to Antigua where he has legal and constitutional protection as a citizen, the news agency reported.
The prime minister also said that Choksi made a "monumental error" by fleeing the island. His family members staying in Antigua are legal citizens and they are not known to be "let's say criminals", the prime minister said.
"He (Choksi) was found in Dominica. He may have entered the island illegally, possibly by boats. The Dominican government is cooperating with the Antiguan and Indian governments. We have requested Dominican law enforcement agencies to not return him to Antigua where he has legal and constitutional rights as a citizen. We specifically requested them to have Indian law enforcement agencies make necessary arrangements to have him returned directly to India," Browne told ANI.
Watch | ‘Dominica agreed for Mehul Choksi's repatriation to India’: Antigua PM
The Indian and Antiguan authorities are in touch with the Dominican government, he said.
According to reports, Mehul Choksi, wanted in India in connection with a ₹13,500-crore loan fraud in Punjab National Bank, went missing on Sunday. He was last seen on Sunday evening at 5.15pm leaving the home in a car. His lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said his family members were worried as he went to a well-known restaurant for dinner and did not return. Antigua police intensified the search and interrogated his relatives and associates. Meanwhile, his car was found at Jolly Harbour without any trace of him.
The police issued a missing person notice and sought the assistance of the public in knowing the whereabouts of Choksi. Anyone with information is asked to call the Johnson Point Police Station or the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), reported Antiguan Newsroom.
After Choksi was apprehended in Dominica, arrangements were initially being made to hand him over to Antigua police, but the PM has said he should be extradited to India.
Before the multi-crore PNB scam came to light, Choksi fled India and a year before he had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme.
(With agency inputs)