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Mehul Choksi Case Creates Ripples In Dominica As LoP Accuses Government Of 'abduction'

Dominica's Leader of Opposition Lennox Linton accused the government of being involved in the 'abduction' of fugitive Mehul Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda. 

Mehul Choksi, Dominica

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The controversy over Mehul Choksi boiled over into Dominica's domestic politics as Leader of Opposition Lennox Linton accused the government of being involved in the 'abduction' of the fugitive from Antigua and Barbuda. After he was reported missing on May 23, Choksi was detained in Dominica for 'illegal country' after an Interpol Yellow Notice was issued. However, his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal claimed that his client had "torture marks" on his body and was kidnapped by some persons from Antigua who brought him to Dominica.

Linton mentioned that the PNB scam accused is fighting the revocation of his citizenship legally, in a statement, he alleged, "With that matter pending in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda, State actors under the leadership of Prime Minister of Dominica appear to be part of plot against the rule of law protection guaranteed to citizens that is effectively undermining the judiciary in the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for the benefit of a foreign power. The removal of Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda to Dominica, was intended to facilitate his transfer to India without having to wait on the outcome of the ongoing extradition proceedings scheduled for hearing in November 2021". 

According to him, the police showed "unusual and calculatedly" discriminatory behaviour by taking Choksi into custody while not questioning crew members and other passengers of the schooner on which the fugitive was transported to Dominica. Claiming that only three crew members and two Indian passengers not including the PNB scam accused were declared to the authorities. he claimed that the schooner was allowed to leave for St Lucia on May 25. Moreover, the Leader of Opposition alleged that the airport staff had been instructed to not take pictures of the Bombardier Global 5000 jet allegedly sent by India. Thereafter, Linton demanded a full investigation into this matter and remedial action to restore Dominica's reputation.

India pushes for Mehul Choksi's extradition

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 again came under question after he went  "missing" from the island nation on May 23.

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