Mehul Choksi, the diamantaire and accused of the Punjab National Bank scam, has surrendered his Indian passport to authorities in Antigua in a bid to avoid extradition to India where he is wanted for fraud. Reports said that Choksi submitted his passport (Z-3396732), with cancelled pages to the Indian High Commission in Antigua, along with the $177 required to ditch the Indian citizenship. Previously, the foreign ministry had mentioned that Choksi could not have dual citizenship.
Choksi is the chairman of the Gitanjali Group and is allegedly the brains behind the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam. He is also the uncle of Nirav Modi, another fugitive diamantaire. In October 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had valued both their assets in India and abroad to be about Rs 218 crore. Both accused had fled from India in the first week of January in 2018, just before the scam was discovered by the CBI. The Interpol issued a red corner notice for Choksi following a request from CBI.
According to sources speaking to FirstPost, a team from India was sent to Antigua to meet with the Antiguan authorities, so that Choksi can be extradited to India. Antiguan authorities had earlier stated that Choksi’s citizenship of their country was cleared in November 2017, since India did not give any report to prevent his application.
India and Antigua do not have a bilateral extradition pact. However, India has been working on getting Choksi back to India through a local law that allows the country to return a fugitive to Commonwealth country.