Antigua opposition questions process of background checks when granting citizenships for money.
Mumbai: Any request for the extradition of fugitive diamond tycoon Mehul Choksi by the Indian government or any enforcement agency will be honoured, a senior Antigua minister has said.
Minister of foreign affairs and immigration Chet Greene has said he was not aware of any request so far but “if a request is received we will honour any legitimate request made of us notwithstanding that we do not have any extradition agreements with India. That is the extent of our commitment to preserving the integrity of our programme.”
The programme Greene was referring to the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), through which Choksi got an Antigua and Barbuda citizenship in November, 2017, Antigua’s Daily Observer reported.
The citizenship is granted after the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) does a process of “thorough vetting.”
Antigua’s opposition parties have questioned how this “thorough” this process could have been if it failed to sense the massive fraud that Choksi and his Gitanjali Group was soon embroiled in.
The CIU told the paper that among other groups, the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) was engaged to “conduct investigations” into Choksi’s background in 2017.
However, the CBI has stated that Interpol did not seek any information about Choksi in the last three or four years.
The CIU told the paper that the criminal allegations against Choksi surfaced only in February 2018 and that it was “fully satisfied” with its background check on Choksi.
Absconding diamantaire Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding banks of nearly Rs 14,000 crore.
Choksi, released a statement Thursday through his lawyer Dr David Dorsett, denying all allegations by India.
“There is no truth in these allegations, he said, adding that the reason why he became an Antiguan citizen was because he wanted to “expand business interest in the Caribbean” and “to obtain visa-free travel access to 130 or so countries” – something that Antigua passport allows.