Government says Choksi trying to stall extradition

Mehul Choksi, an Indian billionaire businessman, wanted for alleged fraud in India, was granted Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship in November 2017.

The government here said it will not be intimidated by any lawsuit from wanted businessman and investment citizen, Mehul Choksi, as they prepare to face him in court tomorrow for matters other than the extradition request from India.

Choksi, who is currently in Antigua and Barbuda and is wanted by Indian authorities to answer allegations that he orchestrated a multi-million-dollar scam at Punjab National Bank, is suing the Antigua and Barbuda government and its Ministry of External Affairs.

A letter dated November 7 from the office of Deputy Solicitor General, Carla Brookes-Harris, to the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne and the Prime Minister’s office, indicates that the Minister Responsible for Citizenship and Minister Responsible for External Affairs in the Antigua and Barbuda government have been named in the lawsuit filed by Choksi.

The letter, alerts the authorities, “Please be advised that the Court has scheduled a hearing in the above cited matter. The said matter will be coming up on 14th November 2018 at 9:00 a.m. at the High Court before Justice Rita Joseph Olivetti.”

OBSERVER media has confirmed that Justice Olivetti recently began sitting in Antigua and Barbuda’s High Court and is assigned the case.

The letter further discloses, “Since you are a named party in the matter you are required to attend Court on the date mentioned herein. If you are unable to attend, then the Permanent Secretary within your Ministry should attend … Please be guided accordingly.”

But an official from the Ministry of Legal Affairs told OBSERVER media on Monday that Choksi and his lawyers are simply trying to stall the extradition process.

“They are trying a pre-emptive strike. He is trying to say that the minster responsible for citizenship is barred from taking any action to extradite him and withdraw the passport,” the official said.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and who is close to the matter, said that the point raised by Choksi’s lawyers has no merit.

“That’s a very novel point; a point that I am afraid has no merit, but is meant to delay the proceedings from going forward. 

We are going to fight that case with all our might to make sure that our laws are not abused,” the source stressed.

According to the source, Choksi’s lawyer is attempting Continued on page 4

Gov’t says Choski from page 3

to use the law to deprive countries of their responsibilities with respect to offences committed within their borders. 

“We have a duty to make sure that once it is proven (that Choksi is guilty), to fulfill our obligations to international law.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have submitted an extradition plea to Antigua and Barbuda and that request is now being looked into by the Ministry of External Affairs.

The matter is also said to be in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Anthony Armstrong.

“We are looking at over one thousand exhibits and the DPP is asking for more information from India because he wants to make sure that once he makes his decision, it is based in law and cannot be altered,” the source said.

Choksi became a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda by way of the Citizenship by Investment Programme. 

Shortly after, the Indian authorities filed banking fraud charges against him. 

Since then, India has been working to extradite him to face the allegations.

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