The Antigua and Barbuda government has reiterated its position that any request for extradition of an Indian national, Mehul Choksi, wanted on alleged fraud charges in the Asian country, will only be dealt with through the appropriate channel.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, said that the Guyana-based Indian High Commissioner Venkatachalam Mahalingam, who is accredited to Antigua and Barbuda, had held “extensive discussions” earlier this week on the issue with Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
It noted that Mahalingam formally submitted another extradition application from Indian authorities, with modified charges and was assured by the Attorney-General, Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin that the documents would be given to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who is currently overseas.
The statement noted that Prime Minister Browne and the Indian diplomat also engaged in general discussions on the nature of the alleged crimes Choksi is said to have committed and the media frenzy in India surrounding the case.
It said Browne restated the government’s full cooperation with the Indian authorities in this extradition case, but highlighted that due process would have to be followed.
Benjamin told reporters that he intends to meet with the DPP, Anthony Armstrong, who is out of the country, next week to discuss the possible extradition of Choksi.
“We expect the DPP back shortly, if not by tomorrow, then certainly by Monday and as soon as he returns I intend to meet with him so we can [discuss] this extradition matter,” Benjamin said.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Browne said that while the government is prepared to cooperate fully with the Indian authorities regarding the arrest of Choksi, it will only do so in conformity with the laws of the island.
He said that the authorities here will not be forced into arresting Choksi, who has received citizenship here under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), on the request of New Delhi.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of several Caribbean countries providing citizenship to foreign nationals who make a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the islands.
Choksi, an Indian billionaire businessman, is wanted for the alleged fraud in India. He was granted Antigua and Barbuda citizenship in November 2017. The diamond tycoon is the owner of the Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company with 4,000 stores in India.
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