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Antigua's PM Determined to Keep Mehul Choksi As Long as Possible, Says Opposition Leader

Opposition leader Giselle Isaac, chairperson of United Progressive Party, has slammed Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne for being hand-in-glove with Choksi.

CNN-News18

Updated:July 31, 2018, 9:24 PM IST
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Antigua's PM Determined to Keep Mehul Choksi As Long as Possible, Says Opposition Leader
File photo of Mehul Choksi. (YouTube)
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New Delhi: The passport granted by Antigua to fugitive Indian jeweller Mehul Choksi has sparked off a massive political storm in the Caribbean island nation.

Opposition leader Giselle Isaac, chairperson of United Progressive Party, has slammed Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne for being hand-in-glove with Choksi.

Hinting that PM Browne could be colluding with Choksi, Isaac said granting Antiguan passport to Choksi cannot be a “mere coincidence”. He was speaking exclusively to CNN-News18’s primetime show Viewpoint on Tuesday evening.

“A simple Google search throws up the fact that Choksi was under investigation when Antigua granted him citizenship. So I don’t understand how the authorities responsible for due diligence couldn’t find out these details,” he said.

He added that Choksi being aware that he was under investigation misrepresented facts. “PM Browne is determined to keep Choksi here as long as possible,” he alleged.

India has requested authorities in the island nation to stop movement of Choksi by land, sea or air. The government there has said it would “try to honour” the request.

Choksi claimed he had taken Antiguan citizenship to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries. The citizenship came for a little over Rs. 1.3 crore, not a big amount for someone who is accused of fraud running into thousands of crores.

The opposition leader told CNN-News18 that the Antiguan government should have taken into consideration Choksi’s past cases before granting him citizenship.

“We heard from the Prime Minister yesterday (Monday) how difficult it would be to revoke Choksi’s passport and extradite him, while the attorney-general clearly disagrees. By pointing out the difficulties, the PM is only jeopardising relations with India, an ally,” he said.

“I’m confused why Choksi can’t be extradited as per the Commonwealth treaty of which India is a part,” he added.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in a $2 billion bank fraud involving state-run Punjab National Bank. Choksi was granted an Antiguan passport in the winter of 2017, three months before the scam came to light.

The MEA had revoked the passports of Modi and Choksi in February to prevent the duo from travelling around the world. However, news reports have hinted that both Modi and Choksi have been travelling.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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