New Delhi: Diamantaire fugitive Mehul Choksi, who has been on a hide-away in Antigua and Barbuda since last year, allegedly cheated public-sector Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) of Rs 441 million (Rs 44 crore approximately).

In a first, the 111-year-old New Delhi-based bank revealed the fraud by issuing notices proclaiming Choksi as the “wilful defaulter” and initiated recovery proceedings against the absconding fugitive.

According to an IANS reportChoksi owes PSB the lump sum amount for a loan he had taken for his company Gitanjali Gems Ltd, with its merged entity Gitanjali Exports Ltd.

Choksi, who is the director-guarantor as well as the legal heir to Guniyal Choksi in the loan account fled the country in February 2018 after he failed to clear the loan amount. Following his escape, the bank declared the company as a ‘non-performing asset’ and a ‘wilful defaulter’.

Further, PSB has now demanded that Choksi cough out the loan amount along with added interest and other costs with effect from October 23, 2018.

As a result, Choksi, who is also the uncle of fugitive Nirav Modi accused in the PNB scam, now sails the same ship as 27 other defaulter firms based in New Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh, Lucknow, and two in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, against whom the bank has filed recovery suits.

Last month, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne called upon revoking his citizenship once he exhausts his appeals.

“Got subsequent information that Mehul Choksi is a crook, he doesn’t add value to our country. He will be deported ultimately after he exhausts appeals, Indian officials are free to investigate based on his willingness to participate,” he had said speaking to ANI.

Last year, Choksi released two videos in which he claimed to be “innocent” and said that the allegations against him were “false and baseless”. He had also said that he had been living in “terror” and especially concerned about his shareholders, employees, particularly the handicapped workers who were hired by the Gitanjali group.