In an explosive development, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne has asked the Dominican Government to send former diamantaire Mehul Choksi back to India, where he is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam. Speaking exclusively to Republic TV, PM Browne asked Dominican Government to detain him for entering their country illegally, to make him persona non grata and have him deported directly to India.
“We have asked the Dominican Government to detain him for entering their country illegally, to make him persona non grata and have him deported directly to India,” the Prime Minister said.
In literal terms, the phrase persona non grata means "an unwelcome person." The term refers to a foreign person whose entering or staying in a certain country is prohibited by the authorities.
The Antigua-based fugitive, who had been absconding since Sunday, was held by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica three days later, as per The Observer. Dominica is a small island nation in the Caribbean Sea.
Mehul Choksi purportedly went "missing" after going out for dinner in Antigua island on May 23 and could not be traced even though his vehicle was traced in the Jolly Harbour later. He was traced to his current location in Dominica and was nabbed by law enforcement personnel following the yellow notice alert issued for him. The police in Dominica are making arrangements to hand him over to the Antigua police. However, PM Browne has now refused to grant him entry in Antigua and asked the Dominican government to directly deport him to India.
Mehul Choksi is under the scanner of both the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate. Along with his nephew Nirav Modi, he has been accused of allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking. Owner of the Gitanjali group, a retail jewellery company, Choksi secured the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in November 2017 under the aegis of the Citizenship by Investment Programme and fled to the island nation in the first week of January 2018.
India formally sought Choksi's extradition in August 2018 underlining the principle of reciprocity, the principle of dual criminality, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption to which both countries are signatories. In 2019, Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne was quoted as saying that the citizenship of Mehul Choksi will be revoked and will be extradited to India once all his legal options are exhausted. The current legal status of the fugitive diamantaire is shrouded in mystery as Aggarwal has stressed that the PNB scam accused remains a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.