In Dominica to Recover Choksi, India’s Multi-Agency Team Returns as Court Decides ‘Language in Decision’
A multi-agency team that had traveled to Dominica for the deportation of fugitive diamond dealer Mehul Choksi returned to India in a private Qatar Airways jet on Friday after the hearing was adjourned by Dominica’s High Court, sources said. The jet carrying the team led by CBI DIG Sharda Raut left Melville Hall Airport in Dominica at 8:09 p.m. local time on June 3 and arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport here at 11:02 p.m. (IST). The team remained stationed for nearly seven days to bring Choksi, wanted for bank fraud of Rs 13,500 crore at the Punjab National Bank, India as the legal battle continued in Dominica courts.
Dominica’s High Court adjourned the hearing on Thursday on a habeas corpus petition filed by Choksi’s lawyers. A habeas corpus petition is filed to bring in court a person under arrest or unlawful detention.
The next hearing is likely to be in a month and the businessman will stay in Dominica, local media reported. Judge Bernie Stephenson will decide the next court date after meeting with both sides, the Antigua News Room reported.
The adjournment should allow lawyers for Choksi and the Dominica government to agree on the language to be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from Dominica, he said. Thursday’s hearing was conducted by videoconference with a group of protesters standing in front of the High Court building in Roseau carrying signs with messages seeking to know the truth about the controversy.
“Who brought Choksi to Dominica?” Read one of the signs, the photo of which was published by numerous media. The judge had ordered the production of Choksi before the magistrate on Wednesday to face charges of illegal entry into Dominica. -an elderly diamond dealer in a wheelchair, who has a red Interpol notice pending against him, arrived before presiding over Roseau Magistrates’ Court in black shorts and a blue T-shirt from the Friendship Hospital Dominique-Chine, where he is undergoing treatment. was rejected.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the PNB scam rocked India’s banking sector. The duo allegedly bribed state bank officials to obtain Letters of Commitment (LoU) on the basis of which they obtained loans from foreign banks that remained unpaid.
Allegedly corrupt banking officials failed to enter these LoUs into PNB’s core banking software, thus escaping scrutiny. Failure to pay these LoUs or bank guarantees worth Rs 13,500 crore resulted in default and became a liability for the bank. Choksi had mysteriously disappeared on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has resided since 2018 as a citizen since he fled Delhi.
He was detained on the neighboring island of Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic getaway with his alleged girlfriend. His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped at Jolly Harbor in Antigua by Antiguan and Indian-like police officers and taken to Dominica on a boat.
Modi fled to Europe and was ultimately detained in London, where he is contesting his extradition to India. Choksi took the nationality of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017.
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