Tiny island nation fears that throwing out the fugitive businessman will have a negative impact on its economy.
The extradition of PNB scam accused Mehul Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda is unlikely to happen any time soon, if ever it happens, as the government of the twin island country is worried about the ill impact this will have on its economy. The tiny country had introduced the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) in 2013. Since then, close to 1,400 individuals, including Choksi, have used this programme to avail citizenship of the country by giving close to Rs 3 crore as fees.
Official sources in Delhi said that the response received from the government of the island nation regarding extraditing Choksi was not “encouraging”. “They have told us that Choksi followed all the prescribed legal process and went through thorough vetting before he was given the citizenship and hence they do not have a strong ground against him. Their primary concern is that if they throw out Choksi, then nobody will use the CIP in the future and it will have a very negative impact on their economy,” an official source said.
Sources added that the government of Antigua and Barbuda is “cooperating” with the Indian government but has clearly said that it will be difficult for them to revoke Choksi’s Antigua and Barbuda passport as it was acquired legally and nothing illegal was found against him during the vetting process.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to the office of the Foreign Affairs Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, E.P. Chet Greene, which asked the newspaper to share the relevant queries with the office. However, no official response was received till the time of this story going to print.
As per the latest data shared by the CIP, ever since the programme was introduced in late 2013 and till June 2017, more than 1,400 people have taken citizenship of the country under the CIP.
“If he had any criminal warrant pending against him when he applied for the CIP, he would not have got the CIP. Choksi is taking the plea that he is innocent and he is being fabricated in the crime,” a source familiar with the development said.