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On Return to Antigua, Mehul Choksi's Extradition Could be Delayed for Years: Report

Choksi landed at Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport in an air ambulance on Thursday morning. (Photo credit: Antiguanewsroom)

Choksi landed at Antigua’s VC Bird International Airport in an air ambulance on Thursday morning. (Photo credit: Antiguanewsroom)

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before a multi-crore scam in the Punjab National Bank rocked the Indian banking industry.

There is a new possibility of a long delay in, fugitive economic offender, Mehul Choksi’s extradition to India.

According to an exclusive report by Hindustan Times, Indian government officials fear that fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi’s success in persuading a Dominican court to allow him to return to Antigua and Barbuda, whose citizenship he holds, for medical treatment could delay his extradition by years.

“This was a golden opportunity for us. Once he is in Antigua, he may never return to Dominica,” said a senior officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to Hindustan Times.

Dominica’s high court of justice on Monday accepted Choksi’s request to let him travel to Antigua for medical treatment on the condition that he returns to Dominica once he is fit to travel.

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His bail bond has been set at an amount of 10,000 EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollar.

Choksi had mysteriously gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen after he fled Delhi. He was detained in the neighbouring island country, Dominica, for alleged illegal entry. His lawyers claimed that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen, who looked like Antiguan and Indian, and then brought to Dominica on a boat.

Choksi had on Wednesday filed a case in the Dominica High Court against the chief of police, investigating police officer Alleyne Maximea, minister of national security Rayburn Blackmoore and magistrate Candia Carette-George.

His lawyers are seeking a declaration from the court that “the decision of the police chief and investigating officer to charge Choksi is an abuse of the process of the court and or a violation of the rule of law and is accordingly unlawful, null and void and of no effect”.

His lawyers had asked the court for an order declaring that the decision of Rayburn Blackmoore, minister of national security, “was taken in breach of the principles of natural justice”. They are further seeking an Order of certiorari in which a higher court orders a lower court to deliver to it a case record for review of the lower court’s decision. They have also sought cost and damages on Choksi’s behalf.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before a multi-crore scam in the Punjab National Bank rocked the Indian banking industry. The duo allegedly bribed officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking (LoU) based on which they availed loans from overseas banks that remained unpaid.

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first published:July 15, 2021, 10:10 IST