New Delhi: India today said Antigua and Barbuda is considering its request to extradite Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in connection with India’s biggest banking fraud and currently living in the Caribbean nation.
An India team led by a senior official from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on August 3 handed over a request to Antigua for extradition of Choksi who obtained citizenship of the island nation.
“We have been told that they (Antiguan authorities) are examining the (extradition) request,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, responding to a volley of questions on the issue during a media briefing.
He said it will be premature to talk about what the response of the Antiguan authorities would be to India’s request.
India is trying to bring back Choksi from Antigua under the provision of a law of the island nation which provides for extradition of a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country. He faces various charges in India in connection with the $2 billion Punjab National bank scam.
Kumar said as per the provisions of the Extradition Act, 1993 of Antigua and Barbuda, a fugitive may be extradited to a designated Commonwealth country or a state with which there are general or special arrangement or a bilateral treaty.
On August 3, the MEA issued a notification specifying that the provisions of India’s Extradition Act, 1962 shall apply to Antigua and Barbuda with retrospective effect from 2001 when the Caribbean nation notified India as a designated commonwealth country under the island nation’s extradition law.
Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15. His citizenship was cleared in November 2017.
According to probe agencies, Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are the masterminds of the PNB fraud.
Kumar said the MEA has forwarded to British authorities the request it received from the Enforcement Directorate for extradition of Modi.
Choksi and his companies allegedly availed credit from overseas branches of Indian banks using the fraudulent guarantees of PNB given through letters of undertaking (LoUs) and letters of credit issued by the Brady House branch which were not repaid, bringing liability on the state-run bank, the officials have said.
An LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant.