Mehul Choksi arrested in Dominica, family says relieved he is safe

“Efforts are on to speak to him so that we can know how he was taken to Dominica,” Mehul Choksi’s lawyer said.

Mehul Choksi’s arrest in Dominica has brought relief to the family, his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said Thursday. Speaking to The Indian Express, Aggarwal said the family was relieved the fugitive diamond trader was safe.

“Efforts are on to speak to him so that we can know how he was taken to Dominica,” Aggarwal told The Indian Express.

Choksi had been missing from his home in Antigua and Barbuda, the Caribbean nation of which he has been a citizen since early 2018.

According to sources, Choksi was caught by the local police of Dominica on Wednesday night while trying to flee to Cuba in a boat. Sources said the Antigua government had initiated the process to bring Choksi to the island nation, where he will face extradition trial.

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne had earlier said there was no reliable information that Choksi had left his country. “We certainly know that he (Choksi) did not use any aircraft. If he would have fled the country it would be by way of some form of sea vessel,” Browne said.

The Antigua police had launched a massive search operation after it found Choksi missing from his home on April 23.

Chokshi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal also said that the businessman did not reach Dominica “voluntarily.” “There should be no speculations till one finds out from Mehul Choksi that how he landed up in Dominica my understanding is that his reaching Dominica is not voluntary. So I find something fishy that nobody seems to be at the moment looking into the fact that how exactly he reached Dominica,” he said in a statement. He also added that Choksi can be deported only to Antigua only and not India. “As per Indian citizenship act section 9, the moment Mehul Choksi acquired the citizenship of Antigua he ceased to be a citizen of India. Hence legally as per the immigration and passport Act section 17 and 23, he can be deported only to Antigua. Moreover, as there is Antiguan High Court order restraining processing any request from India so my understanding is that he has to be sent back to Antigua only and there is no question of his being sent to India,” he added

Choksi is under investigation by several agencies in India including the CBI. At India’s request, Interpol has issued a red notice against him.

Choksi left India on January 7, 2018, several days before the PNB scam came to light, and took the oath of citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda on January 15. He had applied for citizenship in November 2017 under the island nation’s Citizenship by Investment programme.

The 62-year-old is accused of defrauding the public-sector Punjab National Bank (PNB) of almost Rs 13,600 crore. Choksi’s nephew Nirav Modi, also an accused in the case, is fighting to ward off extradition from the UK, where he is in prison.

Source: The Indian Express

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