New Delhi: While a special long-range Air India flight is being readied to reportedly fetch a target, the Antigua government has said it has no information of a law enforcement team from India to pick up economic fugitive Mehul Choksi, said a report on Monday.
“I have not been informed of any team coming to Antigua from India,” said Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, chief of staff in PM Gaston Browne’s office to a leading daily. Responding to recent reports on a flight apparently bound for Port of Spain, Hurst said of Choksi, “My government would wish him gone. He brings nothing to Antigua but unwanted publicity.”
He said that Choksi “brought a matter before the high court, but he lost. He, however, has a right of appeal which I am sure he will exercise. If the matter is still before the courts, he cannot be extradited.”
Choksi’s application for Antiguan citizenship was granted after he received a clean chit from the Indian government.
A couple of days ago, top government sources had confirmed that India was moving ahead to bring back high-value economic offenders from the West Indies.
A long-range Air India Boeing was commissioned to handle this mission. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials will fly to the West Indies to bring these people back, said IANS.
Availing of the controversial paid citizenship programme provided by many of the islands in the Caribbean, diamantaire Mehul Choksi and Winsome Diamonds promoter Jatin Mehta have taken citizenship in these parts.
Mehta became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis while Choksi took Antigua and Barbuda citizenship recently. These islands provide visa-free travel to 132 countries.
Investigative agency sources also revealed that Choksi and absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi are the principal targets of this exercise but it is not clear whether Modi lives on one of these islands.
Meanwhile, in apparently an attempt to avoid extradition to India, Choksi gave up his Indian citizenship by handing over his passport to the Antiguan government earlier this month.