India attempts to bring back Mehul Choksi directly from Dominica: Reports
New Delhi/IBNS: India on Thursday asserted that it will use its diplomatic channels to bring back fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi directly from Dominica after he was captured there.
The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs in Dominica confirmed the capture of Choksi, who is wanted in India over the Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case, for illegal entry into the country.
A red alert was issued by Interpol on Choksi's name, the ministry in of Dominica said.
Earlier this week, the 62-year-old went missing in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Choksi, who is wanted by India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), fled to Antigua and Barbuda in 2018.
The Home Affairs Ministry in Dominica said that it is in communication with the authorities in Antigua to ascertain the citizenship of Choksi in the Carribian island nation.
"Once the information is provided by the Antigua authorities, possible arrangements will be made for Mr. Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to Antigua," said an official statement by Dominica's Home Ministry.
However, India is also trying to get Choksi directly repatriated to the south Asian country through diplomatic channels.
"Sources in the home ministry said India enjoys good ties with Dominica, pointing out that the government recently sent one lakh Covid vaccines free of cost to the tiny Caribbean island as part of its "Vaccine Maitri" initiative," NDTV reported.
Since Mehul Choksi entered Dominica illegally, it will be easy to deport him to India, the channel said sources said.
Investigators are looking at options for direct repatriation after Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne was quoted in media as saying that the wanted fugitive businessman should be sent back to India directly.
"We asked them not to repatriate him to Antigua. He needs to return to India where he can face the criminal charges levelled against him," Antigua News Room, a media outlet, quoted Browne as telling journalists in Antigua and Barbuda.
"We will not accept him back. He made a monumental error by skipping the island," Browne said, according to news agency ANI.
The entire episode of Choksi's disappearance and capture in Dominica came amid efforts to extradite him by the CBI and the ED, which are investigating the Rs. 14,000 crore fraud at India's second-largest state-owned bank.
Choksi's brother-in-law Nirav Modi, a diamond czar, is also accused in the same case.
Like his uncle, Modi fled India in 2018 and is presently in the United Kingdom.