Interpol drops notice against PNB scam accused Mehul Choksi
The withdrawal of the notice means that the fugitive businessman can now freely travel to any country except India.
The International Criminal Police Organization, or Interpol, has withdrawn its Red Corner Notice issued against fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, reported The Indian Express on Tuesday.
The notice is the highest form of alert issued by the intergovernmental organisation to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person while extradition, surrender or similar legal actions are pending.
Choksi is wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate in India in connection with the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. Another accused person in the case, Nirav Modi, is currently in jail in the United Kingdom.
Vijay Aggarwal, Choksi’s lawyer in India, confirmed the development. “Because of the efforts of the legal team and the genuineness of my client’s case, his RCN [red corner notice] has been cancelled, and ultimately truth has prevailed,” Aggarwal said, according to The Indian Express.
The CBI is yet to comment on the development but the notice is now not available on Interpol’s website.
The withdrawal of the notice means that Choksi can now freely travel to any country except India.
Soon after the development, the Congress criticised the Union government, saying fugitives are getting respite while the central agencies pursue opposition leaders.
“When Parliament can be stalled for ‘best friend’, then how can help for the ‘old friend’ who absconded five years ago be denied?” Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge tweeted. “Thousands of crores of the country were lost and ‘na khaane doonga’ [won’t let corruption take place] became an unmatched jumla [rhetoric].”
Kharge’s “best friend” reference was to industrialist Gautam Adani, whose conglomerate – the Adani Group – has been accused of stock manipulation and improper use of offshore tax havens. The Congress has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee investigation against Adani, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has favoured the businessman.
Choksi had fled India for Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018, a few weeks before the PNB fraud came to light. He has secured the citizenship of the Caribbean country.
In July 2021, Choksi alleged that he was abducted from his house in Antigua and Barbuda by Indian agencies. The fugitive businessman had gone missing on May 23, 2021, from Antigua and Barbuda, and was detained in Dominica the next day.
After 51 days in prison, Choksi was given bail by the Dominica High Court on medical grounds. In May, illegal entry charges against him were dropped.
Choksi has claimed that he cannot be declared a fugitive in India as he had left the country before a first information report was filed against him.