Mehul Choksi’s saga took an amusing turn on Monday (May 31, 2021) as his lawyer, Vijay Agarwal, revealed that he had been abducted to Dominica.
Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, in a interview said that the diamantaire had taken his girlfriend to Dominica and got caught. Choksi’s lawyer denied and dismissed this claim and stated the woman in question was a part of the team involved in his torture, abduction, and arrest. The woman ‘got friendly with the whole family’ and later shifted to a house near Choksi’s house in Antigua.
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) of nearly Rs.13,600 crores. Choksi has been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and other section pertaining to cheating, criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. A similar case was also filed against Nirav Modi. In January 2018, Choksi fled India before the news of the scam became public and warrants were issued against him, and has been a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda ever since.
The 62-year-old businessman had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda. His lawyer stated that he had gone out for dinner in the Antigua Island on Sunday and did not return. His car was found near Jolly Harbour but there was no trace of him.
“Mehul Choksi is missing. His family members are worried and anxious and had called me to discuss. Antigua Police is investigating. The family is in the dark and worried about his safety.”, Choksi’s lawyer stated.
He was caught by the local police in Dominica after an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued by Antigua and Barbuda.
Choksi claimed through his lawyer that he had been abducted from Jolly Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda. He also claimed that he had been brutally beaten up, tortured and taken to Dominica where he was arrested by the local police.”They grabbed him and threw him in a yacht and took him to Dominica”, Agarwal stated.
Vijay Agarwal has filed a habeus corpus in Dominica and are awaiting a response from the local police which will decide whether Choksi will be bailed out or sent back to Antigua to prison.
Some photographs emerged showing Choksi standing behind the bars of a lock-up in Dominica. Other photos showed him with a red swollen eye, bruises, and injuries on his hand and wrist. The businessman’s lawyer stated that these injury marks on his body clearly establish the abduction claims.
“All these theories of Mehul Choksi fleeing from Antigua voluntarily are opposed to common sense. Firstly, he has a stay in his favour in Antigua. Secondly, I have been informed that his passport is in Antigua only, so nobody will try to escape without having a passport in his pocket. Brutal marks on body and this passport factor now establishes abduction claims”, Aggarwal said.
A Qatar Airways private jet landed in Dominica from India on May 28 carrying necessary documentation needed for deportation of the businessman.
Prime Minister Browne, who has been vocal about not accepting Choksi back in his country, where he is a citizen, said, “My understanding is that [the] Indian Government has sent certain documentation from courts in India to confirm that Choksi is indeed a fugitive”.
“These documents will be utilised in the court case in Dominica, where a judge is hearing the matter and has put a stay on repatriation till Wednesday”, Browne added.
The Dominica High Court stayed the removal of Choksi from its soil and put a gag order on the developments till the matter is heard in an open court on June 2.