Mehul Choksi, the fugitive jeweller who is involved in Rs 13,000 crore PNB scam, issued a statement today saying he is a lawful citizen of Antigua and he applied for it “to expand business interest in Caribbean”. He claimed that he got the citizenship of Antigua before the Nirav Modi scam emerged. He also said in the statement that he visited the US in January 2018.

Choksi said in the statement, “My application was motivated by the desire to expand my business interest in the Caribbean and to obtain visa-free access to 130 or so countries.”

The statement has come following summons issued by a special court of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Mumbai against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. The court has asked them to appear before September 25 and September 26 or they will be declared Fugitive Economic Offenders.

Recently, Central Bureau of Investigation wrote a letter to Antiguan authorities seeking details regarding his whereabouts. The Antigua Government later indicated that it may consider “a legitimate request” from India to send back Choksi.

Separately, Choksi has also claimed that he faces a threat to his life from his former employees and debtors.

He stated in an application, “There have been various cases of mob lynching in India. This recent trend of mob lynching and general public giving justice on the road is growing. Even the applicant faces a similar threat as there are several persons who have grievances and anger against him (Choksi),”

It claimed, “As it became impossible for the applicant’s company to function and the employees were not paid their salaries and debtors did not get their money back, all these persons have become agitated against the applicant and he is now facing threat to his life,”

The application also stated that if Choksi is brought to India, he might face threat to his life by jail staff.

“Choksi never shied away from the investigation and has responded to all the communication he received from the investigating agencies. His ill health, the revocation of his passport and threat to his life are the main circumstances why he is unable to travel to India,” it stated.