Absconding fraud-accused jewellery magnate Mehul Choksi issued a video statement on Tuesday from Antigua -- the country where he has now been granted citizenship.
In the short statement, which is the first glimpse of Choksi since the massive PNB Bank scam came to light, Choksi says:
"All the allegations levelled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are false and baseless. They have attached my property illegally and without being any basis for the same. The passport authority revoked my passport altogether in view of which I was immobilised on 16 February. I received an email from the passport office which said that my passport has been suspended due to reasons of security threat to India on 20th February. I sent an email to the regional passport office (RPO) in Mumbai requesting them to revoke the suspension of my passport. However, I did not receive any reply from the regional passport office. Further, the regional passport office did not give any explanation as to why my passport has been suspended and how I was a security threat to India. Hence, as my passport is suspended there is no question of surrendering the same."
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are the main accused in what is thought to be India's biggest bank scam, which is estimated to have entailed a fraud of over Rs 12,000 crore. The scam entailed Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi issuing multiple 'Letters of Undertaking' from a PNB bank branch which they used to obtain vast loans from the overseas branches of Indian banks.
Nirav Modi had recently been tracked by Republic TV to two apartment addresses in London. A Red Corner notice was on Monday issued against his sister Purvi Modi. The properties of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, including those of their company Gitanjali Gems, have been seized by the Enforcement Directorate over the months since the scam emerged.
Choksi's whereabouts had been unclear for a number of months since the scam originally came to light. However, in July, the Prime Minister of Antigua confirmed to Republic TV that Choksi had been granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda via the Citizenship via Investment route. Republic TV then ascertained Antigua's response over why he was granted citizenship despite being mired in allegations of fraud, to which the response was that at the time that Choksi had made his application, there was 'nothing derogatory' against him.
In early August, Republic TV accessed a statement by Choksi's lawyer David Dorsette, who sensationally revealed that his client had a 'loose alliance' with the Congress:
"He was a businessman. An ordinary businessman. And he did have a loose alliance with what is now the opposition party in India, the Congress party", David Dorsette had said.
Also in August, web portal newsroompost.com had put out details of Choksi's Antiguan passport. The issue date of the document is said to be November 16, 2017, and the Passport number is AB007713. The document shows that Choksi’s passport is valid for 5 more years, and set to expire on November 15, 2022.