Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, wanted in the alleged Rs 13,600 crore Punjab National Bank scam, has denied all the allegations made by the Indian investigative agencies, even as he claimed he had taken Antigua citizenship last year to expand his business, reported PTI.
David Dorsett, Choksi’s attorney, issued a statement on the diamantaire’s behalf saying there was no truth in the allegations levelled by the Indian government, the Antigua Observer, a newspaper in Antigua, reported.
Choksi has said he wanted to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries. Choksi who was allegedly the partner-in-crime of his nephew Nirav Modi in the banking fraud refused to say anything further on the issue, on the advice of his lawyers. Also Read: Mehul Choksi on the move again, probe agencies say he has left Antigua
“I can however state that I lawfully applied to be registered 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 citizenship was in due course approved,” the statement published in the newspaper said.
Meanwhile, Indian agencies have learnt that Choksi, who was last spotted in Antigua on grounds of his citizenship in the country, has left the island nation. On Wednesday, the CBI had written to concerned authorities in Antigua to provide details of Choksi’s whereabouts after Antiguan authorities officially released a statement about Choksi getting a citizenship in January this year, just before the PNB scam was made public. Also Read: Nirav Modi, Choksi summoned by court under new fugitive offender law
According to the response sent by Antigua’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), which grants citizenship to foreigners in lieu of investments or fees that could be as low as Rs 1.3 crore, Choksi was “granted citizenship after extensive vetting by agencies”.
Once his location is known, the CBI is expected to push for extradition. The agency has already sent a request to the Interpol to issue a Red Notice against Choksi, but the request is still pending.
(With PTI inputs)