Mehul Choksi, fugitive diamantaire, a law-abiding citizen, says his lawyer
Fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi’s lawyer on Thursday said his client is a law-abiding citizen who shall prove his innocence.
“My client Mehul Choksi is a law-abiding citizen. He left India for his medical treatment and at that time there were no CBI or ED criminal proceedings pending against him nor was there anything conceived against him. He is exercising various legal remedies available in law. He is not able to travel back to India due to serious health concerns,” Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said in statement.
“He has availed legal remedies available under Antiguan law also. Every person who is facing any sort of accusations is presumed innocent until a court of law pronounces him guilty. He is entitled to avail of all legal remedies. He shall prove his innocence in due course of time,” Aggarwal said.
The lawyer’s statement came hours after Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Anitgua and Barbuda told Doordarshan that Choksi would be sent back to India after he exhausts his appeals in the Caribbean islands.
Browne described Choksi as a “crook” who “really brings no value” to Antigua and Barbuda but said his government was helpless until the businessman exhausts his appeals process.
“You know we had the unfortunate situation where he was cleared by Indian officials as a person of good standing,” Browne told ANI news agency in New York.
“As to what exactly happened in India and the fact that we got flawed information, the Indian officials have to take responsibility for that situation,” he said.
There was no immediate response from Indian officials. However, India has noted in the past that a move by Antigua and Barbuda to strip Choksi of his citizenship of is a “positive development” as it will pave the way for his extradition.
Earlier this year, Browne had hinted that Choksi’s citizenship would be stripped off and he would be deported to India.
Choksi is a key accused in Rs 13,500 crore PNB fraud along with his nephew Nirav Modi. He acquired the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017 under the islands’ controversial Citizenship Investment Program that lets the world’s rich pick a second passport.
He had earlier cited his poor health and fear of being lynched as reasons for not returning to India to join the investigations.