Mehul Choksi, wanted in a Rs. 13,000 crore bank fraud, has spoken on camera for the first time from Antigua, where he has been living amid efforts in India to bring him back. “All allegations against me are false and baseless,” said the fugitive businessman, in an elaborate defence.
“The Enforcement Directorate has attached my properties illegally without any basis,” Mehul Choksi said, speaking to news agency ANI. The questions were asked by his lawyer in Antigua.
Mehul Choksi, who, along with nephew Nirav Modi, fled India in January, said there was “no question of surrendering his passport” as it had been revoked “without explanation as to why I am a security threat”.
He said he was “immobilised” because his passport had been revoked. “On February 16, I received an email from the passport office which said that my passport has been suspended due to reasons of security threat to India. On February 20, I sent an email to the regional passport office, Mumbai, requesting them to revoke the suspension of my passport. However, I did not receive any reply from the regional passport office,” he said.
The video interview comes in the middle of the government’s efforts to extradite Mehul Choksi to India.
The businessman was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda last year and he took the oath of allegiance to that country on January 15.
Mehul Choksi and celebrity jeweller Nirav Modi are being sought by multiple investigating agencies after it was revealed that the two extracted crores in loans from banks abroad on the basis of fake guarantees in the name of Punjab National Bank, India’s second largest state-owned bank.
The Enforcement Directorate has sent a reminder to Interpol about its application seeking a red corner notice or global warrant against Mehul Choksi.
Once such a notice is issued against a fugitive, Interpol asks its 192 member countries to arrest or detain the person and begin extradition or deportation proceedings.
India’s request was put on hold by the Interpol after a representation by Mehul Choksi during which he had alleged that the cases against him were a result of political conspiracy. He had also raised questions about jail conditions in India, his personal safety and health.9 COMMENTS
The Interpol has till now issued such notices against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal, sister Purvi, his executives Subhash Parab and Mihir R Bhansali.