Antigua Observer:- The High Commissioner of India, V. Mahalingam, has told the Government of Antigua and Barbuda that a formal extradition request will be forwarded to the authorities in the not-too-distant future in relation to fraud accused Indian investor Mehul Choksi.
The billionaire diamond dealer who is said to be in Antigua and Barbuda is a citizen here, having acquired this in November 2017 under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
This is the word from the government here following a meeting with the High Commissioner who traveled to the twin island to discuss the possible extradition of the accused Indian fraudster and alleged fugitive.
According to a press release from the Lionel “Max” Hurst, the government’s chief of staff, Choksi is wanted in India for fraud and the Prime Minister Browne has indicated the government’s desire to cooperate with the Indian authorities.
Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, who was part of the meeting, along with Minister of Foreign Affairs, E.P. Chet Greene, Solicitor General, Martin Camacho, senior legal counsel, Carla Harris and Ambassador Colin Murdoch, senior advisor to PM Browne, yesterday revealed that under Statutory instrument no 34/2001 and Section 7 of the Extradition Act 12/1993, there exists bilateral extradition arrangements between Antigua and Barbuda and India.
According to news coming out of India, Choksi and his nephew, Nirav Modi, both diamond tycoons, were alleged to have colluded with two employees of the Punjab National Bank in a fraud scheme of over US $1.8 billion. The alleged scam began in 2011 and was detected in January of this year.
But, through his local attorney, Dr. David Dorsett, the accused man has said that there is no truth to the allegations.
He reportedly claimed that he had taken Antigua and Barbuda’s citizenship to expand his business because the country’s passport provides visa-free travel to 132 countries.
Additionally, Choksi’s lawyer yesterday filed a motion in the High Court suggesting that there is no legal basis for the “expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal” of Choksi from Antigua at the behest of the government of India. He argued that as a result of his citizenship, “No lawful basis exists for the extradition of Mr. Choksi under Section 5 of the 1993 Extradition Act.”