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PNB Fraud: CBI Approaches Govt to Seek Mehul Choksi's Extradition

The CBI move comes amidst media reports that Indian agencies told the Caribbean nation that there was no adverse information against Choksi when it did a background check on him before granting him citizenship in 2017.


Updated:August 3, 2018, 10:31 PM IST
PNB Fraud: CBI Approaches Govt to Seek Mehul Choksi's Extradition
File photo of Mehul Choksi. (YouTube)

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sent an extradition request for Mehul Choksi to the government to be forwarded to Antigua where the fugitive businessman took citizenship in November last year, an agency official said on Friday.

Elaborating on the move, CBI sources said the agency had cited three grounds on the basis of which Choksi, one of the alleged masterminds of the $2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank and uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, could be extradited to India to face trial.

They said the agency had underlined the principle of reciprocity where fugitives could be exchanged between two countries as and when required, principle of dual criminality which states that the alleged charge on the fugitive should be an offence in both the countries, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption to which both Antigua and India are signatories. The UN Convention urges its signatory nations to cooperate in the matters pertaining to corruption, they said.

The CBI move comes amidst media reports that Indian agencies told the Caribbean nation that there was no adverse information against Choksi when it did a background check on the fugitive billionaire before granting him citizenship in 2017.

According to a statement of Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda, published in Antiguan newspaper The Daily Observer on Thursday, Antigua has claimed that Indian agencies had not shared any “derogatory information” about Choksi during its background checks.

Choksi’s application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, the newspaper reported. Choksi was granted citizenship in November 2017 after a detailed “background check” and “due diligence”, The Daily Observer had said in an earlier report.

Responding to queries, the official spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs said the police clearance certificate (PCC) was issued to Choksi by the Mumbai passport office for Antigua and Barbuda on March 16 last year on the basis of a clear police verification report (PVR) available on his passport.

He added that as Choksi’s report was clear in the system at the time of issuance of PCC, the process followed by the passport office “was as per extant instructions”.

While the Antiguan authority responsible for grant of investment-linked citizenship named the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as one of the Indian agencies to have given such a clearance in case of Choksi, the Indian capital markets regulator rejected the claim, saying it neither received any such request, nor provided any such information to the department concerned in Antigua.

After getting an Antiguan passport, Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15, 2018.

On January 16, this year, the $2 billion scam was detected by Brady House branch of Punjab National Bank, making it the biggest banking scam in the country.

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