NEW DELHI/SAINT JOHN’S: India has sent a private jet loaded with documents for deportation of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi from Dominica where he is said to have gone with his girlfriend on a romantic escapade from his sanctuary in neighbouring Antigua only to be arrested.
Qatar Airways private jet flew a distance of over 13,000 kilometres from Delhi to Douglas-Charles airport in Dominica on Friday carrying several documents needed for deportation of 62-year-old Choksi who is wanted in Rs 13,500 crore-bank loan fraud case, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne told a local radio station in Antigua.
Indian officials in Delhi refused to confirm or deny whether a plane had been sent to Dominica.
According to flight status, Qatar Executive flight A7CEE left the Delhi airport at 3.44 am on May 28 and reached Dominica at 1.16 pm local time on the same day, via Madrid.
Choksi was detained in Dominica for illegal entry after his mysterious disappearance from neighbouring Caribbean country Antigua and Barbuda where he was staying since 2018 after fleeing from India in January that year.
Within days, the scam came to light.
The diamantaire had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using its Citizenship by Investment program.
Browne told the radio show that the jet is from India carrying necessary documentation needed for deportation of Choksi.
The Dominica High Court stayed his removal from its soil and put a gag order on the developments till the matter is heard in an open court on June 2.
India seems to have spotted a window of opportunity in the arrest of Choksi in Dominica where he was “detained” for illegal entry.
“The information that we are getting is that Mehul Choksi may have taken his girlfriend to Dominica, probably to have dinner or have a good time and so on, and got caught.
That would have been a monumental error because in Antigua he is a citizen, we could not deport him….,” Browne said.
He said the Government of Dominica and law enforcement agencies, unless the court rules otherwise, can deport him to India because he is an Indian citizen, Antigua News Room reported.
“The problem is if he is sent back to Antigua because he is an Antiguan citizen, even though his citizenship is unsettled, he is still enjoying constitutional and legal protections as a citizen.
We have no doubt that his citizenship will ultimately be revoked because he did not disclose material information,” he said.
Choksi has alleged that he was abducted from Jolly Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda by Antiguan and Indian looking policemen and was taken to Dominica.
He was purportedly seen with red, swollen eyes and bruises on his hands in pictures that surfaced in Dominica.
His lawyers have also alleged that he has marks on his body. Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) using letters of undertaking.
Both are facing a CBI and ED probe.
While Modi is in a London prison after being repeatedly denied bail and is contesting his extradition to India, Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018.
The scam came to light subsequently.