Indian investigators suspect Choksi may have bought the citizenship of Antigua.
New Delhi: Two days after India was informed by the US about fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi's move to Antigua, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wrote to Antigua authorities seeking more details about Choksi’s whereabouts.
The Ministry of External Affairs was informed that Gitanjali Gems owner Choksi, wanted for a Rs 13,500 crore bank fraud along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is not in the US anymore.
Antigua is among the many tax havens in the Caribbean and has no extradition treaty with India, which makes it harder to chase the 59-year-old runaway diamond businessman.
Indian investigators suspect Choksi may have bought the citizenship of Antigua. According to reports, the businessman would need to pay about Rs 1.3 to 1.7 crore and receive a passport from the country and with that passport, Choksi can travel freely.
India had cancelled passports of both Choksi and Nirav Modi in February, after investigators uncovered a huge loan fraud at the Punjab National Bank.
There is an Interpol Red Corner Notice - close to an international warrant - against Nirav Modi but the CBI's request for one against Choksi is still in process.
The Enforcement Directorate, in June, told a Mumbai court that both should be declared "fugitive economic offenders" and their assets worth Rs 3,500 crore, spread across India, UK and United Arab Emirates, confiscated.
Mehul Choksi has refused to return to India, saying he fears "mob-lynching".
"There have been various cases of mob lynching in India... Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Mehul Choksi)," he said in his application.
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are accused of swindling the state-run Punjab National Bank worth Rs 13,400 crore.