'Not his girlfriend, impossible to abduct someone in Jolly Harbour', says woman named by Mehul Choksi in complaint
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, currently being held in custody in Dominica after his "mysterious disappearance" from Antigua and Barbuda, has triggered a political storm in the Caribbean island nations. Choksi, wanted in a major banking fraud in India, claimed earlier this week that his "friend" Barbara Jabarica was instrumental in his abduction from Antigua and filed a police complaint in this regard. Days after the allegation was raised, Jabarica has now come forward with her statement, debunking Choksi's claims, and clarifying her position.
In an interview with news agency ANI, Barbara Jabarica said that it was "impossible" to kidnap anyone in the Jolly Harbour area in Antigua and Barbuda. She clarified that Choksi had introduced himself to her with a fake name when she met him while staying at a rented accommodation near his residence.
"No one contacted me. There was no sign of abduction. I said this in other interviews, for people who know the Jolly Harbour area, it's impossible to kidnap anyone there. It's the safest place and in a family area," Barbara Jabarica told ANI when asked if any other Indians, besides Mehul Choksi, was in touch with her.
Choksi had named Barbara Jabarica as one of his abductors in his official complaint with the police in Antigua, claiming that after they reached Dominica, he was told by his abductors that he was taken there to meet a high ranking “Indian politician”.
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Jabarica denied the allegations and said that she was only engaging with the 62-year-old Choksi in good faith over business opportunities as she had not followed Indian news and had no idea that he was a fraudster.
"I have known him (Mehul Choksi) since last August and only met with him in Jolly Harbour when I rented an Airbnb accommodation near where he happened to live. He introduced himself as Raj. Between August to April, he was always texting me but I used to reply to him once a month," she said. "Then closer to date, like April-May this year, we had weekly conversations. We conversed about opportunities to do business together. When I was on the island at that time, we used to have daily conversations," she added.
Clarifying her position, Barbara Jabarica said, "I would like to clarify. I made this clear in a few interviews that I was not his girlfriend and he's not my sugar daddy or anything like that. I have my own income and business. I don't need his cash or support, hotel booking, fake jewellery or anything like that."
"I am a European. I live in Europe and I don't follow Indian news. I also did not follow the list of fraudsters, so I was not aware of his (Choksi's) real name and background until last week. I believe this would be the case with most people in Antigua. I don't think anyone knew his name or background," Jabarica said.
She said that anyone visiting the Caribbean for holidays would not have been able to identify Mehul Choksi as the fugitive businessman from India, since he had changed his appearance. "I saw all these pictures, I can see how he looked before and I think he lost a lot of weight and he looks very different. I don’t think someone is walking in the Caribbean on a holiday and he would spot out that he is the same Mehul Choksi that I read in Indian news," Barbara Jabarica told ANI.
Choksi had alleged that Jabarica, who had developed "friendly terms with him" over the past year was an "integral part" of his abduction purportedly orchestrated by musclemen claiming to be Antiguan Police and mercenaries looking like Indians. The absconding businessman, wanted in ₹13,500 crore banking scam in India, is currently getting treatment under detention at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital Roseau.