Mehul Choksi, the fugitive diamond merchant wanted in India on Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud charges, has been denied bail by the high court in Dominica on the grounds that he is a flight risk. Choksi had alleged that he was abducted from Antigua by the Indian and Antiguan police officers along with his friend, Barbara Jarabik, who was part of the plot according to his version of events, on May 23.
The Dominica High Court denied bail to Choksi on Friday as Judge Wynante Adrien-Roberts deemed him a ‘flight risk’, a report in India Today said.
The report said that Choksi’s lawyers had argued that as a CARICOM (Caribbean Community) citizen, he is entitled to bail since his alleged offense is a bailable one with a fine of EC$ 5,000. They asked the court to impose a cash bail. The lawyers also said that their client is unwell and not a flight risk.
However, the state lawyer Lennox Lawrence opposed Choksi’s bail on account of him being a flight risk and having an Interpol red notice issued against him. Lawrence added that Choksi’s medical condition is not an issue because he has received the necessary medical attention.
Choksi’s habeas corpus plea in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) was adjourned sine die. The plea talks about alleged torture and seeks repatriation back to Antigua, where he is a citizen. The Indian government had filed two affidavits in the Dominica high court establishing Mehul Choksi’s Indian citizenship and the serious nature of the fraud he committed on PNB, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.
In India, Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning Rs 13,500 crore from Punjab National Bank using letters of undertaking. Both Modi and Choksi are currently facing a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.