‘Credible possibility’: Interpol removes red notice against Mehul Choksi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

‘Credible possibility’: Interpol removes red notice against Mehul Choksi

ByNeeraj Chauhan
Mar 20, 2023 06:37 PM IST

In its order, Interpol there was a credible possibility that Mehul Choksi’s abduction from Antigua to Dominica had the ultimate purpose of deporting the applicant to India

NEW DELHI: Interpol has removed its red notice against fugitive Mehul Choksi wanted by India in the $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud based on a representation by the diamantaire, people familiar with the development said Monday. Choksi was added to its red notice in December 2018.

Mehul Choksi (Mint File Photo)
Mehul Choksi (Mint File Photo)

The Indian government “vehemently contested” the deletion of Choksi’s name from Interpol’s wanted list but the global policy body wasn’t convinced and prime facie, found credence in his allegation that Indian agencies attempted to abduct him, they said.

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The development comes as a setback for the Indian government and the two federal agencies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The removal of the red notice means Mehul Choksi can travel out of Antigua and Barbuda, of which he is a citizen.

In its order, Interpol said: “There is credible possibility that the applicant’s abduction from Antigua to Dominica had the ultimate purpose of deporting the applicant to India” and added that Choksi may face the risk of “not receiving a fair trial or treatment if returned to India”.

People familiar with Interpol proceedings said Choksi approached the global body last year for a review of his red notice citing his alleged abduction from Antigua and Barbuda.

“We (India) vehemently contested his charges in the Interpol and conveyed that if his red notice is removed, he may flee from Antigua, where extradition proceedings are at a crucial stage. Also, he is wanted in multiple cases,” said an officer who didn’t want to be named. A second officer said “Interpol red notice removal doesn’t affect our investigations or our extradition request in Antigua.”

Choksi has alleged that he was abducted by Indian agents from Antigua and was taken in a yacht to Dominica on May 23, 2021.

After he was found in Dominica the following day, the Indian government flew in a team of investigators on May 28 in the hope of securing his deportation from the island, where he was not a citizen, but Choksi filed a habeas corpus in the high court alleging abduction and torture.

India told Dominica in June 2021 that Choksi was the mastermind of the 13,578 crore PNB loan fraud and owed 7080 crore ($952 million). New Delhi also argued that he remained an Indian citizen because the appropriate authority did not accept his application to relinquish Indian citizenship, and sought to have him deported to India

His capture caused a political storm in the Caribbean with opposition parties accusing governments of Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda of colluding with India to allegedly abduct the businessman.

The Antigua Royal police launched an abduction probe in the matter based on Choksi’s lawyers’ complaint. The findings of Antigua police mirrored Choksi’s allegations.

Dominica, which had initiated illegal entry proceedings against Choksi, too had withdrawn its case and sent him back to Antigua on July 15, 2021.

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