Choksi's extradition could be delayed for years: Here's why
The extradition of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi—accused in the Rs. 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case—to India could possibly be delayed by many years, according to people familiar with the matter. Indian officials fear there could be a long delay in Choksi's extradition after he successfully persuaded a Dominican court to let him return to Antigua and Barbuda—of which he's a citizen—for medical treatment.
Choksi may never return to Dominica, says senior CBI officer
Dominica's high court of justice on Monday granted bail to Choksi on medical grounds on a bond of 10,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars, allowing his return to Antigua on the condition that he comes to Dominica once he's fit for traveling. "This was a golden opportunity. Once he is in Antigua, he may never return to Dominica," a senior Central Bureau of Investigation officer said.
Choksi could try to make sure he's never declared fit
Before he was allowed to return to Antigua, Indian government officials hoped to convince the Dominican court to allow Choksi's deportation to India, insisting he was still an Indian citizen as his request to renounce the citizenship was rejected by India. But now, Indian officials say that Choksi could try to "make sure he is never declared fit" and never return to Dominica.
The Dominican court's order serves the country's interests too: Official
The Dominican high court's latest order serves the island nation's interests, too, as Choksi's entry triggered a political firestorm with the country's main opposition party accusing the governments of Dominica, India, and Antigua and Barbuda of conspiring to abduct and deport Choksi to India. "By agreeing to his bail...Dominica has sent a message that—'let him be Antigua's problem, not ours,'" a government official said.
Choksi went missing from Antigua in May
To recall, Choksi went missing from Antigua—where he's been living since 2018 as a citizen after fleeing India—on May 23 and detained for illegal entry into neighboring nation Dominica a day later. However, the fugitive businessman's lawyers claimed he was abducted from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by some policemen who looked Antiguan and Indian, tortured, and forcefully taken to Dominica on a boat.
Choksi is fighting two cases in Antigua
Meanwhile, in Antigua, Choksi is fighting two cases related to his extradition to India and the Antiguan government's legal battle to revoke his citizenship. The legal proceedings may reportedly continue until 2027. Even if his extradition to India gets cleared, he can still approach the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC)—the court of final appeal for the UK overseas territories and Crown dependencies.
Choksi, his nephew are accused in PNB fraud case
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank for over Rs. 13,500 crore through fraudulent transactions allegedly with the help of some of its employees—dubbed the largest banking scam in India's history. Firms linked to the duo acquired fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) from PNB during 2011-17 and based on them, obtained loans from foreign branches of Indian banks.