Arguing the innocence of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, his advocate Vijay Aggarwal, on Thursday, has released a statement in reaction to Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne's comment at NewYork. Aggarwal has stated, "Every person who is facing any sort of accusations is presumed innocent until a court of law pronounces him guilty." Choksi has been in Antigua and Barbuda after he was granted citizenship of the Island nation on January 15, 2018. He has been living in this country since after fleeing from India. He is wanted by multiple government departments for money-laundering.
Claiming medical reasons for Choksi fleeing India, Aggarwal added that Choksi had left the country when there were no proceedings against him. Citing ongoing health reasons, he added that Choksi was exercising legal remedies under Antiguan law. He assured that Choksi would prove his innocence in due course. He reminded the legal protocol of 'innocent until proven guilty'.
"My client Mehul Choksi is a law-abiding citizen. He left India for his medical treatment and at that time there were no CBI or ED criminal proceedings pending against him nor was there anything conceived against him. He is exercising various legal remedies available in law. He is not able to travel back to India due to serious health concerns. He has availed legal remedies available under Antiguan law also. Every person who is facing any sort of accusations is presumed innocent until a court of law pronounces him guilty. He is entitled to avail of all legal remedies. He shall prove his innocence in due course of time," read his statement.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said economic fugitive Mehul Choksi is a ‘crook’ and it is just a matter of time before he will be extradited to India, talking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York. He stated that Mehul Choksi had appealed the case against him. He added that their courts were dealing with the appeal and that there was no decision that can be taken to extradite him, prior to the verdict. He assured that ultimately Choksi will be deported after exhausting all of his appeals or he will be repatriated for that matter or extradited to India to face whatever charges he has against him.
The Antiguan Prime Minister added, “However, I can say to you that we are not interested in having Mehul Choksi in Antigua and Barbados. He really brings no value to the country. You know, 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. In any case, our officials acted based on information from India and made him a citizen only to be told later on that he is a crook.”
Meanwhile, in India, the ED has attached properties of Mehul Choksi worth over Rs 24 crore in Dubai in connection with the Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank Scam. ED have attached immovable properties, valuables, vehicle, bank account having a total value of Rs 24.77 crore of accused Mehul Choksi under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Punjab National Bank Fraud Case. Both Choksi and Nirav Modi have been absconding from India. They are the main accused of defrauding India's second-largest state-run bank PNB to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore.