NEW DELHI: Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi has given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport to Antigua. The move is seen as an attempt to avoid extradition to India, where he is wanted by multiple agencies for loan fraud.
Mehul Choksi, 59, also submitted 177 dollars with his passport (Z-3396732 ) to the Indian High Commission in Antigua. Officials say he has given his new address as Jolly Harbour Marks Antigua.
The foreign ministry had said that Mehul Choksi could not have dual citizenship. Antigua is hearing India’s case for the businessman’s extradition.
India and Antigua do not have a bilateral extradition pact but the government has been trying to bring back the diamond billionaire from Antigua under a law of the island nation that allows it to send back a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country.
Mehul Choksi was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2018 and he took the oath of allegiance to that country on January 15 last year. Nearly two weeks later, on January 29, the CBI filed a case and started investigating him and his nephew Nirav Modi.
Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are accused of a Rs. 13,000 crore fraud involving fake guarantees in the name of state-run Punjab National Bank to secure loans abroad. They both skipped the country a year ago. Choksi left the country for medical treatment in the US.
In December, global body Interpol put out a red corner notice against Choksi on the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI’s) request.
Choksi has told a court in Mumbai that he cannot travel to India as he cannot suffer a 41-hour journey from Antigua because of his poor health. He also said in a written statement that the Enforcement Directorate had misled the court by not revealing his condition and the face that he had been in touch with banks and wanted to settle his dues