The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Deepak Kulkarni, the aide of fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, on Monday in connection with its money-laundering probe in the USD 2-billion PNB fraud case.
Deepak Kulkarni was arrested from the Kolkata airport after he immediately landed from Hong Kong.
Deepak Kulkarni was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was expected to be produced before a court on Tuesday, the officials said, adding that the ED would seek his transit remand to take him to Mumbai, where the case was registered.
Mr Kulkarni was linked to the overseas businesses of Mehul Choksi, one of the main accused in the case, and the ED had notified a Look-out Circular (LoC) against him, the officials said.
He was a director in a Hong Kong-based "dummy" firm linked to Choksi, an official said, adding that the ED had named him in a charge sheet filed against the fugitive jeweller earlier this year and a Mumbai court had also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
Earlier in September, Fraud-accused jeweler Mehul Choksi had said that he is ‘under media trial’ in a video message from Antigua to narrate his side of the story.
“I am certainly under the media trial. Till December there was no bad name and I was leading a company in India,” said Choksi.
Further questioning the media’s actions, Choksi said:
“If I was such a bad man as they are portraying, why was all the media running after me for business? I must ask this.”
Mehul Choksi said that the charges levelled against him by the ED are 'baseless'. He also said that he won’t surrender as he hadn’t received a reply from the regional passport office as to why his passport was revoked.
The Antigua government assured India of its full cooperation in the extradition of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, allegedly involved in the USD 2 billion scams in the Punjab National Bank, and conveyed its commitment to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda E P Chet Greene here on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and raised the extradition issue of Choksi, who is currently in the Caribbean island.
Choksi is one of the alleged masterminds of the USD 2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank and is an uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi. He is wanted in India by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate probing the fraud, the biggest banking scam in the country. Choksi had fled India on January 4 this year and took an oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15. His valid passport was revoked in February 2018.
(With inputs from PTI)