No reliable information on Mehul Choksi's departure from Antigua, law enforcement in pursuit: PM Browne

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Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne

St. Johns [Antigua], May 25 (ANI): After reports of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi going missing in Antigua emerged, Prime Minister Gaston Browne on Tuesday said that there was no reliable information of his departure so far and it was likely that he was still in the country.

"In any case, we do not have any reliable information till date to confirm that he has fled the country. It is likely that he may still be here and the law enforcement are utilising all efforts including all intelligence to try and locate Choksi. However, the cases continue and I am quite sure that in the event that he would have fled the country, he would get a judgement in absentia and we will revoke his citizenship in due course," said Browne, while responding to a query from the opposition in Parliament, reported Antigua media.

"If indeed Choksi would have fled the country, as speculated, it would have been by boats as we know for a fact, having checked with the airport authority, no aircraft, flight plan or passenger by the name of Choksi would have been found by the airport authority and no plane would have landed in the country illegally," he added.

He also said that it was "extremely unlikely" that Choksi would flee the country within 36 hours and reach Cuba by boat, reported Antigua media.

Browne also noted that Choksi has two cases before the courts of Antigua and Barbuda, one is of his extradition to India and the second one is the revocation of his citizenship. He also said that Choksi would be represented by a notable, well-celebrated legal attorney.

"From all indications, Mr Choksi, unless he has a strong interest to be here to fight those two cases, I do not believe that law enforcement and anyone for that matter, would have contemplated that Mr Choksi would have fled the country," he said to Parliament.

In an exclusive statement to ANI, Choksi's lawyer said, "Mehul Choksi is missing. His family members are worried and anxious and had called me to discuss. Antigua police are investigating. Family is in the dark and worried about his safety."

There were media reports in Antigua that the police have launched a manhunt for Mehul Choksi. It was reported that Choksi left his home last evening to go for dinner at a well-known restaurant in the southern part of the island and was never seen again. His vehicle was discovered in Jolly Harbour later in the evening, but there was no sign of him, reported Antiguan media.

Choksi has been involved in a legal battle to stop his extradition to India to answer fraud charges against him. Police are yet to issue a statement in the matter, reported Antigua media.

Mehul Choksi was the owner of Geetanjali jewellers and is involved in an economic fraud case of over Rs 13,000 crore and siphoning off the money illegally. CBI has filed several cases against him and investigations are underway, including his extradition request. (ANI)