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. He said, “Well, you are aware that just like India we are a country of laws, we have an independent judiciary. The matter is before the court and there is due progress. Even criminals have the right to due process. He has appealed the initial decision against him and until such time as he exhausts all of his appeals there is no decision that can be taken to extradite 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.” 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 and it is just a matter of time.
On being asked whether the Indian authorities can go to Antigua to interrogate Mehul Choksi, Gaston Browne said that the Indian authorities have the right to visit Antigua and Barbuda. He added that the country has a visa-free arrangement for officials and diplomats so that they can visit Antigua. He added, “If they (officials) wish to interview Mr. Choksi that’d be based on his willingness to participate. It has nothing to do with my government.”
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Mehul Choksi was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda on January 15, 2018. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi have been absconding from India. They have been accused of defrauding India's second-largest state-run bank Punjab National Bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore.
(Inputs from ANI)