The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday arrested Deepak Kulkarni, an associate of fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, in Kolkata after he landed at the airport from Hong Kong, ANI reported. Kulkarni was the director of Choksi’s dummy firm in Hong Kong. A Look Out Circular was issued against him by ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier.
Kulkarni was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was expected to be produced before a court Tuesday, PTI quoted officials as saying. They also said the ED would seek his transit remand to take him to Mumbai, where the case was registered.
He was a director in a Hong Kong-based “dummy” firm linked to Choksi, an official said, adding that the ED had named him in a chargesheet filed against the fugitive jeweller earlier this year and a Mumbai court had also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
Last week, Choksi had told the special PMLA court that it was “medically impossible” for him to travel to India due to his health condition. In his reply to the Enforcement Directorate’s plea to declare him as a fugitive economic offender, Choksi — an accused in the PNB fraud case — said that he had neither left the country post the registration of the complaint against him by the CBI or the ED nor has he refused to return. He claimed that he has been unable to return due to his medical conditions.
Choksi claimed that he has blocked arteries, diabetes and a clot in his brain since 2012. “It has resulted in multiple medical complications, making it extremely impossible for him to travel on long flights of 41 hours,” the application filed through advocates Sanjay Abbot and Rahul Agarwal stated.
Choksi also opposed the ED plea to declare him a fugitive economic offender on various grounds, similar to the ones made by his nephew, Nirav Modi, including maintenance of “status quo”, allegations of “fraud” against ED as well as permission to lead evidence and cross-examine witnesses before the plea is decided.
Choksi is one of the alleged masterminds of the $2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank and is an uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi. He is wanted in India by the CBI and ED probing the fraud.