Absconding Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud accused Mehul Choksi surrendered his Indian passport to the High Commission in Guyana, MEA sources told The Quint on Monday, 21 January.
Choksi, one of the alleged masterminds of the USD 2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank and uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, took citizenship of Antigua last year.
"“Mehul Choksi has surrendered his Indian passport to the High Commission in Guyana. It may be kept in mind that whenever an Indian citizen acquires foreign nationality he is expected to surrender his Indian passport. India continues to pursue Choksi’s return with the government of Antigua through diplomatic and legal channels.”" - MEA source to The Quint
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday asserted that Choksi will not be spared and will be brought back to India to face the law.
Singh said this in response to a question about Choksi surrendering his Indian passport.
"“We have brought the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act and there is a process under that law (to check fraud cases). He (Choksi) will be brought to India for sure. No one will be spared. Action will be taken against everyone.”" - Home Minister Rajnath Singh, as quoted by PTI
In August last year, India gave Antigua a request for Choksi's extradition. A team from India was also sent to Antigua to pursue the request.
Choksi and Nirav Modi are under probe by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED filed money laundering cases against them and others on 15 February 2018 on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
On 25 December, Choksi had told a court that he cannot come to India for investigation as he cannot bear a 41-hour long journey from Antigua owing to his “poor health.” However, in his written reply, Choksi had informed the court that he is willing to join the investigation through video conferencing.
On 4 January, the ED said it has sent a request for attachment of a factory premises in Thailand worth Rs 13 crore owned by Abbeycrest Ltd, a company of Mehul Choksi's Gitanjali Group, in connection with its ongoing investigation into the Rs 13,500-crore PNB fraud case.
On 13 December, the Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against fugitive diamantaire Choksi after a request from the CBI. Earlier in 2018, the Interpol had also issued RCN against Nirav Modi.
The ED had on 24 May and 26 May filed charge sheets against the two.
Both left India in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI.
Modi Misleading Country on Mehul Choksi: Congress
Meanwhile, the Congress on Monday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "misleading" the country on bringing back Mehul Choksi, saying he is now unlikely to return after he surrendered his Indian passport.
"“It now appears that Mehul bhai is not going to be friend (of Modi) anymore because he has decided not to ever return to India, his Indian passport stands surrendered... Utter hypocrisy and again misleading the people of this country.” " - Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, as quoted by PTI
Singhvi said that in 2017-18, bank frauds in this country increased by 72 percent and there is yet no answer or clarification from the government.
"The total debt of India has risen 50 percent from Rs 54 lakh crore to Rs 82 lakh crores. This is the hard figures-based reality versus Modi ji's 'jumlebaji' (gimmicks)," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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