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Took Citizenship of Antigua to Expand Business, Says Mehul Choksi

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.

News18.com

Updated:July 27, 2018, 3:16 PM IST
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New Delhi: Fugitive diamond merchant, Mehul Choksi, who is wanted by the investigating agencies in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, broke his silence on the allegations against him and also revealed that he became the lawful citizen of Antigua and Barbuda to further his business interests.

"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. My application for citizen ship was in due course approved," said Choksi in a letter released through his attorney.

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.

Choksi and Modi fled the country in January this year nearly a fortnight before the scam was detected. Dismissing the allegations against him, Choksi said he became the citizen of Antigua to expand his business interests.

"My application was motivated by my desire to expand my business interests in the Caribbean and to obtain visa free travel access to 130 or so countries . That remains my reason for choosing to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda," said Choksi.

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.

"A fugitive economic offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution," the government had said.

Cases of frauds, cheque dishonour or loan default of over Rs 100 crore would come under the ambit of this ordinance.

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