Mehul Choksi goes missing in Antigua

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 | PNS | New Delhi

Police, family look for fugitive Indian jeweller

Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, wanted in the `13,500 crore credit fraud in Punjab National Bank and a related money laundering case, has gone missing in Antigua where he had been staying since he escaped from India in January 2018.

The Royal Police Force of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has launched an operation there to trace him.

The Antiguan police, which is probing the issue from a missing person angle, issued a statement along with the photograph of the businessman seeking information from the public on his whereabouts.

“The police are investigating a Missing Person Report made of 62-year-old Mehul Choksi of Jolly Harbour. Mehul was reported missing on Sunday 23rd May 2021 at the Johnson Point Police Station,” the statement said.

Choksi was last seen on Sunday in his car which was recovered by the police following searches but he could not be found, it said in its statement.

“Antiguanewsroom”, a media outlet in the island country, quoted Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney on Tuesday that the police are “following up on the whereabouts of Indian businessman Mehul Choksi”, who is “rumoured” to be missing.

The media reports say Choksi, who had taken the citizenship of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, was seen driving in the southern area of the island on Sunday.

Reports here quoted Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal as confirming that his client was missing. Choksi’s family was looking for him and the island nation’s police have launched a search operation to locate him.

According to reports, Choksi might have shifted base to Cuba in order to evade the law enforcement agencies here which are seeking his extradition to India.

Sources in the CBI, which is probing the PNB fraud case linked to Choksi, have not received any official intimation from the Interpol which has issued a Red Corner Notice against the fugitive businessman. The Interpol is expected to alert the CBI if Choksi enters any immigration point in the member countries of the global police body.

Choksi and his nephew and the prime accused in the case Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the public sector lender PNB, through letters of undertaking and letters of credit.

While Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 through the Citizenship by Investment programme, before his flight there in January, 2018, Modi is locked in a London prison after repeated denial of bail by the courts there. Modi is contesting extradition to India being pursued by the investigating agencies—CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED).

The duo is facing separate probes by CBI and ED here.

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