India has sent a private jet to Dominica with deportation documents for fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, PTI reported on Sunday, quoting Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
The 62-year-old businessman, 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, was caught in Dominica on Wednesday after he fled Antigua and Barbuda. He was allegedly trying to flee to Cuba.
On Friday, a Dominican court extended the stay on Choksi’s deportation from the Caribbean island country till June 2. Choksi’s lawyers argued that he was no longer a citizen of India and so he couldn’t be sent there, NDTV reported.
On the same day, a private jet of Qatar Airways landed at Dominica’s Douglas-Charles airport, according to Antigua Newsroom. The plane took off from Delhi and landed in Dominica via Madrid, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister confirmed this development to the media. “My understanding is that the Indian government has sent some documentation from the courts in India to confirm that Mr Choksi is indeed a fugitive and my understanding is that the documentation will be utilised in the court hearing next Wednesday,” Browne told the Antigua News Room, according to NDTV.
He added: “The Indian government seems to be going all out to ensure that he is repatriated to India so that he can stand charges there.”
Choksi had been living in Antigua, where he had secured a passport, after he left India just weeks before the PNB fraud came to light in 2018. Following his detention late Wednesday night, Antigua refused to take him back.
The PNB fraud case
The Punjab National Bank fraud came to light in February 2018 when the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that it had detected “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions” worth Rs 11,380 crore at a branch in South Mumbai.
Some officials of the public sector bank had allegedly issued fraudulent Letters of Undertaking to companies belonging to Choksi’s nephew Nirav Modi, a diamond businessman. The bank later raised its estimate of the value of the fraud to over Rs 13,000 crore.
Last month, United Kingdom’s Home Minister Priti Patel had approved the extradition of Modi to India, where he will face trial. He was arrested on March 19, 2019, and has been lodged in London’s Wandsworth jail.