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Antigua Says 'Will Honour' India's Request to Extradite Mehul Choksi: Report

Mehul Choksi had said that his motivation for becoming a citizen was to 'expand' his business interest in the Caribbean and 'to obtain visa free travel access to 130 or so countries' — something that Antigua and Barbuda’s passport allows.


Updated:July 28, 2018, 10:57 AM IST

New Delhi: Antigua government has assured to look into India's request to extradite fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, who obtained citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda before the Rs 13,400 crore Punjab National Bank scam.

According to Antigua's The Daily Observer newspaper, foreign affairs and immigration minister EP Chet Greene has said that they will 'honour any legitimate request' in order to preserve the integrity of their Citizenship by Investment Programme, through which Choksi obtained citizen in November 2017.

Greene was quoted as saying he was not aware that the government of Antigua and Barbuda had received any requests from any Indian government or law enforcement body for cooperation or extradition regarding Choksi.

“However, if a request is received we will honour any legitimate request made of us notwithstanding that we do not have any extradition agreements with India. That is the extent of our commitment to preserving the integrity of our programme,” Greene said after a cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Choksi had said that his motivation for becoming a citizen was to 'expand' his business interest in the Caribbean and 'to obtain visa free travel access to 130 or so countries' — something that Antigua and Barbuda’s passport allows.

"I lawfully applied to be registered a as a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under the Citizenship by Investment Program. During the course of my application, I did all that was lawfully required of me to do (which includes thorough vetting). My application for citizenship was in due course approved," said Choksi in a letter released through his attorney.

The Daily Observer said that members of opposition parties in Antigua have questioned how thorough the 'vetting process' could have been in 2017 if Choksi and his company, the Gitanjali Group were not long after, named as suspects in a massive fraud investigation.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Choksi are being investigated by the ED and the CBI after it was detected that they allegedly cheated the Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,400 crore with purported involvement of a few of the lender's employees.

Meanwhile, a PMLA court back home has summoned Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi to appear before it on September 25 and 26 respectively on the Enforcement Directorate's plea seeking action against them under the new fugitive economic offenders law.

The agency had recently moved the court seeking to declare the diamond traders as 'fugitive economic offenders' and to confiscate their assets worth Rs 3,500 crore in the case. The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 12 and passed on March 19.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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