L’affaire Choksi

Mehul Choksi behind bars in Dominica
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We just cannot seem to rid ourselves of this strange Mehul Choksi matter. Of course, our Prime Minister (PM), the Honourable Gaston Browne, has often voiced frustration with Choksi, suggesting that the Antiguan citizen should simply give himself up to the Indian authorities. More recently, after Choksi surfaced in Dominica, our PM said that the Dominica authorities should simply hand over the embattled diamond dealer to the Indian authorities.Choksi must be hurting on the inside. And it brings to mind the scripture, “The foxes have holes; the fowl of the air have nests, but [Choksi] hath not a where to lay his head.” (His court appearance yesterday in Dominica was put off after he presented a doctor’s note saying that he was unwell)

Mind you, we hold no brief for Choksi. We are merely recounting the saga, and opining as to the possible questions and ramifications arising from it. For one thing, we believe that the treatment meted out to Choksi from some in high places here in Antigua and Barbuda will have a negative impact on our Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP). We believe that those who are in the market for this product will take some pause when considering Antigua and Barbuda as a country with which they would like to do business and take up citizenship. Consider the words of our good PM after Choksi was found in Dominica: “We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua. He needs to return to India where he can face the criminal charges leveled against him.” 

Of course,l’affaire Choksireads like an international spy thriller, replete with shadowy figures, a beautiful woman, reconnaissance operations, a yacht, and a night-time, cloak-and-dagger operation. John le Carre, Robert Ludlum, and Ken Follett could not have penned a more intriguing tale with such high stakes and international drama. We submit that the half of this story has not been told, and a whole lot more will come to light in the days and weeks and months ahead. 

In the meantime, here are some of the questions on the minds of the people. How much, if anything, did our government know about the cloak-and-dagger operation that saw Choksi land in Dominica? Remember, in the early hours of Choksi’s reported disappearance, our PM expressed doubt that he could have left Antigua. Said our good PM: “There is no reliable information to date to confirm that he has fled the country. It is likely that he may still be here and law enforcement is utilising all efforts, including all intelligence to locate him.”And yes, our PM did say that no private plane could land in Antigua. We are not sure what gives him that confidence. 

How much did our police know? Was there any collusion? How much did the authorities in Dominica know? And what about that jet that landed in Dominica? And what about Choksi’s protestations and claims? Was Choksi attempting to flee to Cuba, as some have alleged? Think Robert Vesco, the international fugitive financier who found refuge in Cuba, where he eventually died. Was Choksi attempting to flee to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with India?

And why mount the operation, anyway? We believe that Choksi’s days here in Antigua and Barbuda were already numbered. It would have been only a matter of time before all his legal manoeuverings would have been exhausted, and he would be on a plane back to India. If the Indian authorities had anything to do with the cloak-and-dagger operation, we are baffled at their sudden sense of urgency in having Choksi returned. Why run the great risk, with all the international fallout? We mean, the wheels of justice were already turning, be it ever so slowly, inexorably against Choksi. 

And if the Indian authorities were not involved in Choksi’s alleged abduction, are there other shadowy figures out there with a material interest in him? How much do we really know about this man and his vast operation? Even James Bond, the legendary 007, would scratch his head at the twists and turns in this saga, especially the mystery role played by the alleged femme fatale. Are those who allegedly abducted Choksi extra-governmental bounty hunters? Did they mount this operation on their own in search of a big pay day? The conspiracy theories abound.

And what about the vaccines that were gifted to us by Dominica? Is there any connection? Enquiring minds want to know. Hmmmm! Talk about “Seeing through a glass darkly!”

Of course, there have been a number of statements and claims from many of the players in this saga, and we suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the netherworld of politics, high finance and international renditions. But as William Shakespeare once said of murder, this Choksi matter “cannot be hid; the truth will out!” And we certainly trust that our government will not be compromised, in any way, by it. 

We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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