Mehul Choksi Chase Becomes Harder; CBI Writes To Antigua For Help

Mehul Choksi Chase Becomes Harder; CBI Writes To Antigua For Help

NEW DELHI: India was informed by the US about fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi's move to Antigua on Monday.

Choksi, wanted for a Rs. 13,500 crore bank fraud along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is not in the US anymore, the Ministry of External Affairs was told, according to sources.

Yesterday, the CBI wrote to Antigua asking for details on the 59-year-old.

Antigua is among the many tax havens in the Caribbean and has no extradition treaty with India, which makes it harder to chase the runaway diamond businessman.

Indian investigators suspect Choksi may have bought the citizenship of Antigua - reports suggest the businessman would need to pay about Rs. 1.3 to 1.7 crore - and received a passport from the country. With that passport, he can travel freely.

India had cancelled the passports of both Choksi and Nirav Modi in February, after investigators uncovered a huge loan fraud at the Punjab National Bank. Nirav Modi is said to be in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

There is an Interpol Red Corner Notice - close to an international warrant - against Nirav Modi but the CBI's request for one against Choksi is still in process.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate told a Mumbai court that both should be declared "fugitive economic offenders" and their assets worth Rs. 3,500 crore, spread across India, UK and United Arab Emirates, confiscated.

Mehul Choksi has refused to return to India, saying he fears "mob-lynching".

"There have been various cases of mob lynching in India... Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Mehul Choksi)," he says in his application.

Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are accused of a swindle in the state-run Punjab National Bank worth Rs. 13,400 crore.