‘Total nonsense’: Dominican PM skewers Mehul Choksi claim on conspiracy
New Delhi: Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Thursday rejected fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi’s claims that he was brought to the island as part of a plot between Dominica, India and Antigua and Barbuda, calling such allegations “total nonsense”, according to a report in Dominica News Online.
This is the first time that Skerrit has responded to accusations by Mehul Choksi and his family that the three governments colluded to send the businessman to India to stand trial in a ₹13,500 crore bank fraud case.
Choksi’s legal team has alleged that he was abducted by police officers from Antigua and India on May 23 and brought to Dominica on a boat the next day, where he was received by senior police officers of Dominica. It is alleged that the plan was to quietly deport him to India.
Skerrit said it was absurd.
“To say that the government of Dominica and the government of Antigua along with India colluded in any way, give me a break, that’s total nonsense. We don’t get involved ourselves in those kinds of activities, those practices, not at all. I mean that is absurd and we reject it and it is unfortunate that anybody would want to propagate this unsubstantiated claim by a gentleman who is before the courts,” Skerrit said in course of weekly interaction with a journalists.
Skerrit also urged the opposition parties in Dominica not to make what he described as “irresponsible statements” on the matter. Dominica’s leader of opposition Lennox Linton last month alleged the government had a role in Choksi’s abduction.
The prime minister underlined that his government will evenly apply the law irrespective of who is accused of committing any crimes.
Skerrit said his government will allow the court to carry out its process regarding Choksi and stressed that his rights and obligations will be respected by Dominica.
He also expressed support for the government of Antigua’s move to revoke Choksi’s citizenship. Choksi, who took citizenship of Antigua via its Citizenship by Investment Scheme in November 2017, is currently contesting a move by the Antiguan government to revoke his citizenship and a second case relating to his extradition to India.
Since Choksi is an illegal citizen in Dominica, Indian government has sought his deportation from there on the grounds that he needs to face the courts in India and that he continues to be an Indian citizen.
In a brief statement issued in early June, Skerrit referred to Choksi as an “Indian citizen” that reflected New Delhi’s position on the businessman. India has argued that Choksi’s request to revoke his Indian citizenship was rejected and the decision conveyed to him when he filed the application.
Choksi’s lawyers, however, argue that the moment Choksi took Antiguan citizenship in November 2017, the businessman ceased to be an Indian citizen as per law.
The 62-year-old businessman, accused of fraud along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is currently in judicial custody in Dominica after being charged by police there for “illegal entry”.
He has sought bail from the Dominica courts and requested that he be sent back to Antigua, of which he is a citizen.
People familiar with the developments told HT that Choksi also rented a house in Dominica last week for $6000 ( ₹4.4 lakh) per month and has informed the high court in an attempt to convince the court that he is not a flight risk. Choksi has requested that he should be placed under house arrest rather than being kept in jail.