New Delhi, Aug 4: The Antiguan government on Friday said that fugitive diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in a Rs 13,500 crore PNB bank fraud, was given citizenship last year after a clearance certificate from the Indian authorities. Putting the blame on the Indian authorities, the Antiguan government said that India didn’t raise a red flag then.Also Read - PM Modi Clocks 20 Meetings in His 65-hour Stay in US

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Antigua and Barbuda said that while conducting background checks on Choksi, it found that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had initiated investigations against him twice. But the cases, according to India’s market regulator, had been closed. Also Read - Breaking News Highlights Updates Sep 27, 2021: India's Daily COVID Vaccination Crosses One Crore Mark

The SEBI, however, denied the claims and said that it “neither received any request from the CIU of Antigua for updates on any investigation nor provided any such information to the CIU”. The Antiguan authorities said it had received Choksi’s citizenship application in May 2017 with necessary document requirements, including a police clearance certificate (PCC). (Also Read: Mehul Choksi Might be Liable Under Passport Act) Also Read - Assam Siblings Write to PM Modi and CM Himanta to 'Take Necessary Action' as Their Adult Teeth Weren't Growing and They Had Trouble Chewing Food

“The said police clearance certificate from the government of India, Ministry of External Affairs Regional Passport Office, Mumbai, certified that there was no adverse information against Mehul Chinubbhai Choksi which would render him ineligible for grant of travel facilities including a visa for Antigua and Barbuda,” the Antiguan authorities said.

Reacting on the allegations, the MEA on Friday said that the police clearance certificate (PCC) was granted to Choksi as per extant instructions. “All passport issuing authorities can issue a PCC if there is a clear PVR in the system. In case there is no PVR, then a fresh PVR is obtained prior to issuance of a PCC,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

Kumar also said that the PCC was issued in March 2017.

On July 27, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet against fugitive diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi in a Mumbai court naming him the “mastermind” behind the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam. The chargesheet by the ED states that Choksi designed the scheme of PNB fraud and the movement of the money under the cover of export and import.

The whole controversy invited the wrath of the opposition as Congress president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Narendra Modi government alleging that the government gave a clean chit to the fugitive jeweller and hence, enabling him to get a citizenship. “In today’s big news: India gave Mehul “Bhai” Choksi, Mr 56s ‘suit-boot’ BFF, a clean chit in Nov 2017, enabling him to obtain Antiguan citizenship. This “Bhai” looted PNB of 13,000 Cr., before scooting from India,” Gandhi said on Twitter.