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Indian foreign ministry, stock market watchdog junk charges of helping PNB fraud accused Mehul Choksi

Indian foreign ministry, stock market watchdog junk charges of helping PNB fraud accused Mehul Choksi

| @indiablooms | 03 Aug 2018, 06:08 pm

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IBNS): Amid reports that Indian authorities provided a “positive report” on Mehul Choksi to Antigua, based on which he was granted citizenship in the Caribbean nation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday clarified that Police Clearance Certificate was issued to the fugitive businessman on the basis of clear Police Verification Report (PVR) available on his passport.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) was issued to Choksi by Mumbai's passport office for Antigua and Barbuda  on March 16, 2017.  

"All passport issuing authorities can issue a PCC if there is a clear PVR in the system, " Kumar clarified.

"As the PVR of Mehul Choksi was clear in the system at the time of issuance of PCC, the process followed by Passport Office, Mumbai was as per extant instructions," said he.

Meanwhile, the Security Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has dismissed all the reports of their involvement and stated that it neither received any request from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Antigua for updates on any investigation nor provided any such information to CIU.

The clarification came after the Antigua government claimed that Choksi was considered to be a "fit and proper candidate" for Antiguan citizenship.

It said the Indian government agencies cleared him last year and said there was "no adverse information" against him.

The CIU statement, as quoted by Antigua Observer newspaper on its website, said these facts were being made public "in an effort to provide clarity and address misinformation that has been circulating in the public domain".

"The said police clearance certificate from the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs Regional Passport Office, Mumbai, certified that there was no adverse information against Mr. Mehul Chinubbhai Choksi which would render him ineligible for grant of travel facilities including visa for Antigua and Barbuda."

Asserting that his application for the citizenship was as per law, Choksi had said through his lawyer, "My application is motivated by my desire to expand my business interest in the Caribbean and to obtain visa-free travel access to 130 or so countries."

Choksi was granted the citizenship in November, last year, reports said.

Choksi, along with his nephew and diamond czar Nirav Modi, is wanted by Indian investigating agencies in the PNB fraud case.

Targeting the MEA, he wrote:

He also questioned the SEBI for providing a clean chit to Choksi.

Choksi had fled to the U.S. in the first week of January, days before the country's biggest banking fraud surfaced.

According to reports, the Enforcement Directorate was informed about Choksi’s presence in Antigua on July 20.

After Interpol authorities confirmed it, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wrote to the Antiguan authorities, seeking details regarding his whereabouts.

The CBI has booked Choksi in two cases related to the PNB scam and filed a charge sheet against him. A special court in Mumbai issued a Non-Bailable Warrant against him.

CBI's request for a Red Notice is currently pending with the Interpol.

The Directorate has also invoked the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance against Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi.


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