By Shermain Bique-Charles
Authorities in Dominica have agreed to work with the Antigua and Barbuda government to fulfil a request by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to have fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi repatriated to India.
Choksi, who was reported missing by his wife on Sunday, was apprehended by lawmen in Dominica in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
According to reports from Roseau, Choksi was captured on a vessel as he cruised into Toucari Beach, on the island’s north coast, at around 3am.
“We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua,” Browne told Observer yesterday.
The government, Browne continued, also reached out to the Indian High Commissioner’s Office, asking that they advise the Narendra Modi-led administration accordingly.
“I have advised them so they can coordinate efforts to have Choksi repatriated directly to India so that he could be brought to justice,” Browne explained, adding that the fugitive’s family were free to stay in Antigua as Antigua and Barbuda citizens.
Browne said law enforcement officials in Dominica are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Choksi’s illegal entry into the nature isle – and who aided and abetted his travels.
It is alleged that Choksi had shown interest in a boat that was up for sale in Jolly Harbour prior to his escape.
Indian federal police have filed fraud charges against Choksi, his nephew Nirav Modi, and others in connection with their suspected involvement in fraudulent transactions that led to losses of about US$2 billion for India’s Punjab National Bank (PNB).
In 2018, PNB alleged that rogue employees had issued fake bank guarantees over several years to help jeweller groups – controlled by Modi and Choksi – raise funds in foreign credit.
Modi and Choksi left India before the fraud came to light but have denied any wrongdoing and have said in letters and statements that they are innocent. Choksi has been living in Antigua after gaining citizenship by the citizenship by investment programme in 2017.
However, after the allegations surfaced and India requested his extradition, the Antigua and Barbuda government began steps to revoke his citizenship.
Choksi has been fighting that in court and Prime Minister Browne said the government will seek to get revocation in absentia.
Meanwhile Choksi’s wife Priti told Indian media that she is happy that her spouse is safe.
Choksi’s attorney Vijay Aggarwal also spoke to Indian media, saying, “I have spoken to his family. They are happy and relieved that his whereabouts are now known”.
He added that efforts are being made to speak with Choksi, “so that one can know the cleaner picture on how he was taken to Dominica”.