Businessman Mehul Choksi, who is accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank, has surrendered his Indian citizenship and passport to authorities in Antigua and Barbuda, DNAreported on Monday.
Choksi had fled India in January 2018, a few weeks before the Rs 13,600-crore scam came to light. In August, he claimed he had “lawfully applied” to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda to expand his business interests in the Caribbean.
According to DNA, Choksi deposited $177 dollars with authorities in Antigua to give up his citizenship and surrendered his passport (Z-3396732 ) to the Indian High Commission in the country. The report said Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, Amit Narang, has informed the authorities in India.
The move to surrender his Indian citizenship is seen as an attempt to avoid extradition to India, where Choksi is wanted by multiple agencies for loan fraud, according to NDTV. Antiguan authorities are hearing India’s case for Choksi’s extradition.
Punjab National Bank scam
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate in the Rs 13,000-crore Punjab National Bank fraud.
The fraud came to light in February 2018 when the bank informed the BSE that it had detected “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions” worth Rs 11,380 crore at a branch in South Mumbai. A few officials of the public sector bank had allegedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to Modi’s companies. Both Modi and Choksi left the country in Janaury, weeks before the scam became public. The bank later raised its estimate of the value of the fraud to over Rs 13,000 crore.
Choksi was granted citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017, and is believed to have been residing there since.
The Interpol had issued a notice against Modi and his sister, Purvi Modi, in July and September this year, and against Choksi in December. A similar notice was issued against Mihir R Bhansali, a senior executive at the US branch of Modi’s business, on charges of money laundering.