Jeweller Mehul Choksi, an accused in the fraud at Punjab National Bank, has told the Central Bureau of Investigation that charges against him are “exaggerated” and he fears for his safety, ANI reported on Tuesday. In a letter, Choksi said that he was “extremely held up” with business abroad and would not be able to travel to India.
The letter is dated March 16, according to The Indian Express. Choksi is accused in the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank scam along with his nephew Nirav Modi. Both Choksi and Modi left India in early January, before the bank revealed the scam.
Choksi’s letter did not reveal his current location. He wrote that the concerns he raised in his earlier letter to the investigating agency “remain unaddressed”, and this has made his “fear of safety rise to extreme levels”.
He also criticised the media for “conduct[ing] a trial by itself and blow[ing] every issue out of proportion”. “...Requiring me to join investigation, though leaving me helpless and information-less, by various actions taken by multiple agencies, is unfair,” Choksi said. “The manner in which the allegations have been exaggerated has left me completely defenceless.”
The Gitanjali Gems owner also said his passport was still suspended and he had not received any communication from the passport authorities. On February 16, the Ministry of External Affairs had suspended the passports of both Modi and Choksi.
“I am extremely held up in my business abroad and am working hard to resolve the issues it is facing due to the unnecessary closure of the business in India due to untenable allegations,” Choksi wrote. “Further, I am unable to travel to India due to my persisting health condition.”
Choksi had written to the CBI earlier as well, and said he was unable to appear for questioning because of a “persisting health problem”.
Earlier, Modi too had refused to appear before the CBI for questioning, saying he had business to take care of abroad. The CBI then asked him to approach the Indian mission in whichever country he is in so arrangements can be made to bring him to India.