Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, an accused in Rs. 13,500 crore PNB bank fraud, has moved to Antigua and secured a local passport, news agency PTI reported.
Quoting sources, the PTI report said that in response to diffusion notice issued by Interpol, the Antiguan authorities informed the Enforcement Directorate that Mehul Choksi arrived there this month and has taken the passport of that country.
Choksi had fled the country in the first week of January, nearly a fortnight before the country's biggest banking fraud, the Punjab National Bank scam surfaced.
The Central Bureau of Investigation has booked Choksi, uncle of his alleged partner in crime Nirav Modi, in two cases related to the scam and filed charge sheet against him. A special court in Mumbai has issued a Non-Bailable Warrant against him.
Armed with the warrant, the CBI moved the Interpol for issuance of Red Corner Notice against the Gitanjali group promoter, who is one of the masterminds behind the nearly USD two billion banking fraud in the Punjab National Bank, but it is still under process. On this basis, request for Red Corner Notice was moved in June.
While RCN has been issued against Nirav Modi and his brother Nishal by the Interpol, the request for such a notice against Choksi is pending with the Lyon-based international police cooperation agency, they said.
The issuance of RCN would mean that the member countries of the Lyon-based international police cooperation agency can arrest and extradite him.
The CBI, in its charge sheets filed on May 14, had alleged that Nirav Modi, through his companies, siphoned off funds to the tune of Rs 6,498.20 crore using fraudulent letters of undertaking issued from PNB's Brady House branch in Mumbai. Choksi allegedly swindled Rs 7080.86 crore, making it possibly the biggest banking scam in the country, it had alleged.
The 13,400 crore-scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January this year after which PNB officials reported it to the agencies concerned.
While the CBI is probing the alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and other offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the ED is probing the money laundering charges.