Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi is understood to have gone missing in Antigua and Barbuda with the police launching a manhunt to trace him since 23 May, local media outlets reported.
“Antiguanewsroom”, a local media outlet, quoted Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney on 25 May that the police are “following up on the whereabouts of Indian businessman Mehul Choksi”, who is “rumoured” to be missing.
The media reports say Choksi, who had taken the citizenship of the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, was seen driving in the southern area of the island on 23 May.
Later, his vehicle was found but there was no trace of Choksi, the reports said. Questions sent to his lawyer about the reports remained unanswered.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), using letters of undertaking.
Mehul Choksi was last seen around 5:15 PM on 23 May before leaving his home in a car which has been recovered by the police. A probe has been launched to look for Mehul Choksi.
Chief of Staff of Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne Lionel Hurst said on the extradition of Mehul Choksi, “It is far too early to tell. If he is found and located, is very much alive then the case continues. On the other hand, if he is not traced, then there would be no use pursuing the case.”
Hurst said further, “We don’t have details. We do know that he was seen by people in his car. His car was found abandoned by he was not in it. Police have searched a number of areas that are not so far from the neighbourhood.”
On reports of having fled the country, Hurst said, “We don’t know, that is mere speculation. We don’t know what had happened to him whether if he has left our jurisdiction or not. A telephone call was made by a member of his household. Police responded almost immediately.”
On privy council case, Hurst said, “If the cases are complete and the privy council found that he indeed misled the authorities then his citizenship would be withdrawn. He would no longer have the protection of the state.”
“On the other hand, if it was found that he was not untruthful then his citizenship would not have been revoked and he would stay in Antigua and Barbuda in exile. His disappearance brings into play some uncertainty,” said Hurst.
While Nirav Modi is in a London prison after repeated denial of bail and is contesting extradition to India, Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme, before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018. The scam came to light subsequently. Both are facing a CBI probe.