Sources say that Mehul Choksi is no longer sure that Antiguan citizenship will save him.
Mehul Choksi, the prime accused in the multi thousand crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, has gone into a “shell” and is refusing to speak to the media of late. This comes at a time when there is increasing pressure on the Antigua and Barbuda government to extradite him.
Sources who are in touch with him say that he is no longer sure that Antiguan citizenship will save him from the Indian agencies who are pressing for his extradition. He is apprently exploring other options, including asylum in other countries that have “better human rights record” and will not deport him to India. Sources say that he still commands unhindered access to his huge wealth.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to Choksi’s lawyer, Dr David Dorsett, on the evening of 1 August, and sought an interaction with Choksi. Dorsett said he was going to meet his client and that the questions be mailed to him. He said the questions would be responded to once he was with his client.
Later, while sharing his emailed response to The Sunday Guardian’s query, Dorsett said, “Mr. Choksi’s position is unchanged. There is no truth to the allegations levelled against him by the Indian authorities. He believes that he is the victim of political persecution. At this time neither Mr Choksi nor I wish to engage further with the media.” Dorset was referring to the press statement that he had issued last week on behalf of his client. He had claimed in that press statement that Choksi had moved to the Caribbean country to expand his business.
The Sunday Guardian, in its questionnaire, had posed the following queries.
1. Mr Choksi, you have been declared as a fugitive by the Indian government. How do you respond to the allegations that you are a criminal who has taken the citizenship of Antigua to escape law?
2. Why didn’t you stay in India and face the legal proceedings?
3. The Indian government is trying hard to extradite you back. Are you afraid of a possible action on part of the Indian government?
4. What are the legal options available to you?
5. There are allegations that you were helped in the “scam” by politicians. Who are the Indian politicians you are/were close to?
6. Your nephew, Nirav Modi, too, has been declared an absconder. Where is he? Are you in touch with him?
7. You have stated that you have taken the citizenship of Antigua for business purpose. What is the business purpose you are referring to?
The CBI has already started the process to extradite Choksi and has sent a request to the Antiguan government through the Ministry of External Affairs to initiate action against him.