On Thursday, former CBI director AP Singh said that Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne calling Mehul Choksi a 'crook' is a positive sign for Indian investigative agencies. Mehul Choksi, a businessman living in Antigua and Barbuda, is an accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud scam.
Former CBI director said, "I think it is a very positive step because Prime Minister does not make off the cuff remarks. He has been obviously briefed that there is evidence against Mehul Choksi, but apart from that there is a process of law which needs to be followed."
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi, both are accused in the PNB fraud scam involving around 14,000 crores. Both of them fled the country a year ago and are under the radar of the investigating agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). The CBI is investigating the PNB fraud case and the ED has registered a case against the two under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The former CBI director further added that the only problem the investigative agencies are facing is of getting Mehul Choksi back to India.
"As far as co-operation from the investigators is a concern, I think it is always there, there is no problem in Indian investigators going and investigating Mehul Choksi in Antigua. The problem is to get him here (India). For that, we have to follow certain due process of law in the courts and make appeals. We will only be able to deport him after the due course of law and it is a matter of time and how long it takes," he said.
In July this year, Mehul Choksi agreed to join the investigation through video conferencing.
After calling Choksi a crook, the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne added that it is only a matter of time before the accused is extradited to India. The PM further said that the matter is before the court and there is due progress, until such time as he exhausts all of his appeals there is no decision that can be taken to extradite him. The Antiguan PM shared his views about Mehul Choksi residing in Antigua and Barbuda and replied saying, they are not interested in having Mehul Choksi in their country. "We had an unfortunate situation where he was cleared by Indian officials as a person in good standing as to what exactly happened in India and the fact that we got flawed information, the Indian officials have to take responsibility for that situation," he said.
(With ANI inputs)