Antigua concerned about India Minister’s statement



The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has expressed its disappointment and concern over a statement reported to have been made by Nirmala Sitharaman, the Minister of Finance of the Government of India, concerning Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme and Mr. Mehul Choksi.

According to the reports by several Indian media outlets, available on the Internet, the Indian Finance Minister stated that several jurisdictions allow “economic offenders to use investment-based schemes to obtain residence or citizenship to escape from legal consequences and underlined the need to deal with such practices”.  In particular, the Minister is reported to have drawn attention to the case of Mehul Choksi, who, it is claimed, “surrendered his Indian passport to become a citizen of the Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda under its Citizenship by Investment (CIP) scheme”.

In a robust response the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, by diplomatic note to the Indian Government, made it clear “that, contrary to the Honourable Minister’s claim, Mr. Choksi did not “surrender his Indian passport to become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under its Citizenship by Investment (CIP) scheme”. 

The Government set out the facts as follows:

“•           Mr. Choksi applied for Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by investment and was subjected to vetting of his background by Interpol which was provided with written and official clearance from the Police authorities in India, attesting that he had no criminal record and was not wanted or being investigated for any crime. 

•             Mr. Choksi was granted citizenship only after the competent police authorities in India gave him official clearance.   

•             He was under no obligation whatsoever to surrender his Indian passport to be become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under its investment programme.  Any decision he made to surrender his Indian passport had nothing to do with the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Programme”.

In its note to the Indian Government, the Foreign Ministry of Antigua and Barbuda declared that, “contrary to the claim that ‘residence or citizenship’ is used ‘to escape from legal consequences’, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, through the competent legal authorities and through diplomatic channels, has cooperated fully with the Indian law enforcement authorities in all matters related to a request for the extradition of Mr. Choksi to India.  The matter of Mr. Choksi’s extradition is now proceeding through the Court system as is the norm in all democratic countries”.

The Foreign Ministry emphasized that Antigua and Barbuda operates one of the most reputable investor immigration programmes in the world and stressed that it does not, in any way, provide protection or immunity for criminals or criminality,

Noting that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda “greatly values its relationship with the Government of India which has always been mutually supportive and beneficial in many international and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations organizations and the Commonwealth”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “its deep concern about the content and effect of the statement by the Honourable Minister of Finance of India” and requested that “a clarification be made to the media on the same scale of the misleading original remarks”.

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  1. We continue to be subjected to all kinds of mal -alignment internationally because we are protecting this fugitive. Had it been anyone else, we would have withdrawn his CIP passport. What makes him so special? He has brought Antigua’s name into disrepute and continues to do so. It’s time we take back our passport and chase this man. We cannot continue to provide cover for ANYONE who is guilty of committing any crime. We need to quickly bring this sordid thing to an end and send this man packing.

    • He has not been found guilty of any crime because he has yet to have any trial. Get your facts straight. Also, you cannot revoke citizenship just because a new citizen potentially does something wrong 1, 5, 10, or 20 years later. Again, that is not due process and that is not how constitutional law works.

  2. I’m glad our Antigua government is fighting back against the government of India. These politicians from India (many of whom are corrupt themselves) have been bad mouthing Antigua far too long.

    I’m a big supporter of our Antigua CIP program. I’m pro-immigration and the majority of our CIP immigrants are educated, nice, wealthy and interesting people from around the world. Many of our CIP naturalized citizens make Antigua home.

    As for the Choksi case, the government is right that the extradition process is going through the courts – that is how the law works. It’s called due process, and perhaps India in not familiar with that concept. Also, Choksi is presumed fully innocent until proven otherwise in a competent court of law.

  3. The potential “powerhouse” out sourcing it’s duties and economy to criminals, whilst little fat hands count borrowed money.

  4. India seem to be still operating as a banana republic, that depending on who wins the election you put your political opponents in jail for corruption which is not yet proven in court. At least when the UPP tried it it failed in the court.

    • Its funny you said this because I found myself saying the same to a friend who ran on the DNA ticket. Had to tell him I find his thinking is similar to how the upp operated, where they felt due process should not be respected. We then had things like Justice Square, BS going against court rulings; Key UPP persons arguing that parliament does not have to listen to the court; upp leaders making light of the court. Had to suggest to my brethren that its time he head back to UPP because at heart, his thoughts are inline with them

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