Not India, Mehul Choksi will be sent to Antigua, says Dominica's acting police chief
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who went missing from Antigua and surfaced in Dominica, may be repatriated to Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican ministry of national security and home affairs said on Wednesday. In a statement, the Dominican government said it had sought some information about Choksi’s citizenship status.
“Mehul Choksi is in Dominica only and he will be sent back to Antigua when everything is ascertained,” Lincoln Corbette, the acting police chief of Dominica told Hindustan Times.
The Dominican government’s statement comes a day after Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda declared that his country did not want Choksi and made it known that he would prefer that Choksi be directly repatriated from Dominica to India where he is wanted for bank fraud.
People familiar with the matter in India have indicated that it wasn’t as simple as PM Browne made it appear since Choksi was a citizen of Antigua.
The statement from the Dominican capital Roseau appeared to reflect this assessment.
"The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs is in communication with the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda to ascertain some facts including the status of his Antiguan Citizenship. Once the information is provided by the Antigua authorities, possible arrangements will be made for Mr. Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to Antigua," the statement said.
Choksi was reported missing on Sunday, hours after he left his home for dinner at a well-known restaurant in the southern part of the island and was never seen again. A massive manhunt was launched by the Antiguan police. Choksi's car, in which he travelled to the restaurant, was recovered but there was no sign of the diamantaire.
He was reported to have been apprehended on Tuesday by authorities in Dominica, another Caribbean island located about 100 nautical miles from Antigua.
Choksi, however, has rebutted this version claimed by the authorities in Antigua and claimed that he was abducted, forced to get into a vessel from Jolly Harbour in Antigua and taken to Dominica.
Choksi's lawyer in India Vijay Aggarwal said he had spoken to his client who told him that Choksi was kept in a police station since Monday, long before the news of his detention in Dominica was made public. "There is something fishy and I guess it was a strategy to take him to another country so that there are chances of sending him back to India. I don’t know what forces are operating, the time will tell," Aggarwal said, citing his conversation with the diamantaire.
The 61-year-old and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in India for allegedly siphoning off nearly ₹14,000 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking.