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PNB fraud: Noose tightens around fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi as Indian officials visit Antigua, hand over request for extradition

"The team met the Foreign Ministry officials of the island nation yesterday and handed over the request to extradite Choksi to India," an official source said.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: August 05, 2018 22:03 IST ]

Mehul Choksi File Image

Tightening noose around Mehul Choksi, one of the alleged masterminds of the USD 2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank, India has handed over a request to Antigua for extradition of the bank fraud fugitive, who has obtained citizenship of the Caribbean nation. Official sources said a team from India was sent to Antigua few days back to pursue the authorities there to extradite Choksi.

"The team met the Foreign Ministry officials of the island nation yesterday and handed over the request to extradite Choksi to India," an official source said.

He is wanted in India by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate probing the fraud, the biggest banking scam in the country. 

As per reports, Antiguan authorities cleared his citizenship in November 2017 after India did not give any adverse report to stall his application. 

Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15.

The CBI had sent its request to the Ministry of External Affairs for extradition of Choksi.

Choksi's application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, Antiguan newspaper the Daily Observer reported, citing a statement from the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda (CIU). 

It said the police clearance certificate (PCC) from the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai said that there was no adverse information against Choksi which would render him ineligible for grant of travel facilities including visa for Antigua and Barbuda.

When asked about the PCC to Choksi, a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs had said it was given on the basis of a clear police verification report (PVR) available on his passport.

Under the Citizenship by Investment Program of Antigua and Barbuda, a person can take their passport on a minimum investment of USD 1,00,000 in the NDF investment fund.

Choksi and his companies allegedly availed of 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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