Gitanjali Group of firms owner Mehul Choksi, involved in a Rs 14,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) banking scam in India, confirmed through a legal response on Friday that that he moved to Carribbean nation of Antigua from the US weeks ago using a local passport.
Fugitive Choksi claims he had taken Antigua citizenship last year to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries.
The revelation came from Antiguan authorities in response to a Central Bureau of Investigaiton (CBI) diffusion notice circulated to foreign countries through Interpol.
The CBI learnt the fact last week and it shared the information with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Both the CBI and the ED have been probing the multi-crore fraud allegedly committed during 2011-2017.
On July 11 the ED had asked a special court in Mumbai to declare diamond merchants Choksi and Nirav Modi as “fugitives” under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018 because they fled from India a month before they were named in the fraudulent case on January 31.
The ED has been probing two cases of money laundering against Choksi, Nirav Modi and others under Prevention of Money Laundering Act on the basis of FIR registered by the CBI, the prime investigating agency of the case.
In these cases, the ED had on May 24 and May 26 filed prosecution complaints or charge sheets against Choksi and Nirav Modi. The court has taken cognisance of the charge sheets and issued non-bailable warrant against both the absconders.
On the request of ED and the CBI, the Interpol has also issued Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi.