Now, Mehul Choksi blames untimely typhoon in Antigua for delayed courier to Bombay lawyer
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, accused in the PNB fraud case, has claimed that he was unable to send documents to his lawyer in Bombay to challenge a court's January order in the Bombay High Court within the mandated 30 days due to an "untimely typhoon" in Antigua and Barbuda.
A special court in Mumbai had in January dismissed applications filed by Mehul Choksi for cross-examination of witnesses in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.
After the plea was dismissed, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) looked to declare Choksi a Fugitive Economic Offenders under the Fugitive Economic Offenders (FEO) Act.
Mehul Choksi is at present based in the Caribbean nation of Antigua. India has sought his extradition from that country and an Interpol arrest warrant has also been issued against him.
In an application filed in the Bombay High Court, Mehul Choksi said he was unable to courier the required legal documents due to typhoon and so wanted to now challenged the order in the high court.
"It wasn't easy for the applicant and his counsel to co-ordinate with each other and take necessary and immediate recourse for filing of the present application. However, the counsel took all possible efforts to co- ordinate with the applicant and get the signed vakalatnamas from Antigua. However, the counsel failed to get vakalatnamas within the limitation period due to untimely typhoon at Antigua which created chaos and also interrupted the courier service," Mehul Choksi's application stated.
Mehul Choksi added that once the situation in Antigua came under control, he sent the documents through courier service on June 24.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are the two key accused wanted by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) to the tune of Rs 13,400 crore in collusion with a few employees of the government-run lender.
The multi-crore fraud came to light in early 2018. Both Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi had fled the country before that. On July 8 last year, when Mehul Choksi landed in Antigua's capital St John's, he used his newly obtained Antiguan passport for the first time and acquired the citizenship.
On Thursday, ED attached assets worth Rs 24.77 crore in India and abroad of fugitive diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, accused in the fraud case.
The attached properties include three commercial assets based in Dubai, a Mercedes Benz car and a number of fixed deposits in bank accounts in the country and outside, the agency said. The total value of the attached properties is Rs 24.77 crore, it said.
(with inputs from Munish Chandra)