As India is making all efforts to repatriate fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi from Dominica where he was caught by police for illegally entering into the island, his acquaintances in Mumbai believe that the 62-year-old businessman is a very “calculative” person and likely to have had “planned his own kidnapping to divert attention and gain sympathy”.
Choksi was detained in Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend. His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped on May 23 from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to island country Dominica on a boat. He further alleged that those who kidnapped him in collaboration with Antiguan officials had “links to India”.
Speaking to CNN-News18 about the same, a former aide of Choksi in Mumbai believes that there is a possibility that this entire “kidnapping” incident was “planned by Mehul Choksi himself only to divert attention and gain sympathy”. “Mehul was a very calculative person. He knew when his banking fraud was crossing a limit, he got his nephew Nirav Modi involved. While the mystery woman being his girlfriend seems hoax, I believe he did so to show that his life was in danger. Why would he leave plush comforts of his home in Antigua and Barbuda?” he said, on the condition of anonymity.
Hardik Hundiya, another diamond expert who knew Choksi for the last many years, said it is not possible for him to believe that Choksi was with a woman when he was caught by police in Dominica. “I first met Pappy bhai (Mehul Choksi) 15 to 20 years ago. His business was flourishing and when I called him, he responded immediately and met me later. He was a family man. In diamond markets of Mumbai, never did we heard of him being involved in something hanky panky.”
However, Hundiya mentioned that Choksi had well-planned his escape by cheating the Indian banks and then landed safely in foreign countries. “How do you think he has the money to pay such a strong team of lawyers? They are being booked on international flights and good stays. Where is the money then coming from?” he added.
Meanwhile, a diamond polishing businessman from Mumbai’s Zaveri Bazaar told CNN-News18 that the traders always knew that Choksi would go bankrupt. “We always wondered how he would stay afloat. We all knew that the uncle-nephew duo were bankrupt but never knew that they were indulging in such a massive fraud.”
On Thursday, Dominica High Court adjourned the hearing on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Choksi, local media reported. Judge Bernie Stephenson will decide the next date of hearing after meeting both sides, Antigua News Room said.
Choksi had earlier claimed that he was brutally beaten up, tortured and taken to Dominica in a vessel where he was arrested.
Some photos of Choksi surfaced which showed him standing behind an iron gate with grilles, which seems to be a lock-up in Dominica. Other photos showed him with a red swollen eye, bruises and injuries on his hand and wrist.
On June 1, India along with Dominica Police submitted affidavits in Court with proof that Choksi was a fugitive who had escaped India. The affidavits also include Indian passport copy of Choksi which proves that he still is an Indian Citizen.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) using letters of undertaking. While Modi is in a London prison after being repeatedly denied bail and is contesting his extradition to India, Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018. The scam came to light subsequently. Both are facing a CBI probe.