Mehul Choksi denied bail by Dominica court over illegal entry
Mehul Choksi - the 62-year-old fugitive founder of India-based Gitanjali Group - has been denied bail by a court in Dominica for illegally entering the Caribbean island country from Antigua and Barbuda. Choksi, wanted in India for his role in the Rs. 14,000 crore PNB scam, had pleaded not guilty before the court, claiming he was kidnapped and brought to the island.
Dominica government argued against Choksi's release
The government of Dominica submitted in the court that Choksi should not be granted bail as he could flee the country. "Choksi has no ties in Dominica, hence it would serve him no purpose not to flee the island if bail is granted. Choksi has an Interpol Red Notice against him as he is facing charges for 11 offenses in India," the government said.
Grant Choksi bail on health grounds, his lawyers said
Choksi's lawyers, on the other hand, called for his bail on health grounds, even offering to pay a bail sum of $10,000. "Various non-nationals in Dominica are on bail for similar matters, so we are of the view that bail can be granted to our client. Let stringent conditions be added...including a bail sum of $10,000," the lawyers told the court.
Matter has been adjourned until June 14
After both the sides submitted their arguments, the Magistrate rejected Choksi's bail request. "Given the severity of the matter, I am not convinced to grant bail (sic)," Magistrate Candia Carrette-George was quoted as saying. The matter has been adjourned until June 14. For the time being, Choksi will stay in the hospital where he is receiving treatment under police scrutiny.
Choksi was reported missing in Antigua on May 23
Choksi was reported missing in Antigua on May 23 and caught two days later in Dominica. Antigua and Barbuda's PM Gaston Browne and the local media had said that he was looking to sneak a romantic escapade with his rumored girlfriend. His lawyers, however, have claimed that Choksi was honey-trapped, abducted, thrashed, and then forcibly brought to Dominica.
Indian officials reach Dominica to bring back Choksi
Meanwhile, a team of Indian officers, led by the Central Bureau of Investigation, has flown down to Dominica to bring Choksi back to India as and when the court there clears his deportation.
What are the legal cases against Choksi?
Choksi is accused of siphoning off close to Rs. 7,080 crore in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam and is wanted by top probe agencies in India on charges of fraud and money laundering. He was also allegedly involved in stock market manipulation in 2013. In Antigua too, he is facing two cases - revocation of his citizenship and extradition to India.