Mehul Choksi

The authorities in Antigua have been approached by the CBI requesting them to provide some information about the whereabouts of fugitive jeweler Mehul Choksi m who is one of the primary accused in the Rs 13000 crore fraud at the Punjab National Bank, according to media reports quoting government sources.

The move of the CBI comes after there were reports that Choksi had fled to the Caribbean country in July and had also managed to acquire a local passport. A diffusion notice that had bene issued by the Interpol against the fugitive businessman was cited by the CBI in its written communique to the Antiguan authorities. The CBI is seeking information about the details of movement and the present location of the accused Choksi, sources said.

According to a local newspaper Antigua Observer, citizenship of Antigua was taken by Choksi in November 2017, and he had taken the oath of allegiance on January 15 this year. A questionnaire to Citizenship by Investment unit of Antigua asking about Choksi was sent by the newspaper, following reports and quotations from Indian news outlets.

The news paper was told that the authorities had approved Choksi’s application after “robust due diligence” and “international investigation” by “reputable agencies”, which included the International Criminal Police Organization and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the paper said in a report.

 

It is evident from Choksi’s actions that advance planning had been made by him for his escape from India and subsequent life because he was well aware that the scam would come out in the public after PNB employee Gokulnath Shetty retired.  Sources said that Chiksi had been helped in the process of renewals of Letter of Undertakings by Shetty.

Sources further said that Choksi took the oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15 after having fled from the country in the first week of that very month.

On January 16, the Brady House branch of the Punjab National Bank was approached by his firm looking to get Letters of Undertaking renewed and issued, which was denied because cash guarantee was sought by the concerned bank officer for issuing these notes, alleges the CBI FIR in the case. It further says that the executives of Choksi’s firm told the concerned bank official that they had been given the letters during the last several years and there had been no demand for cash guarantee made by the bank.

No instruction for such LoUs in the bank’s system was found by the officer which sparked off the detailed scrutiny that resulted in the scam coming to the surface.

It has been alleged that Rs 7080.86 crore had been swindled off by Choksi which formed the largest ever bank scam in the country.

(Adapted from TheHuindustanTimes.com)