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Antigua and Barbuda prefers that fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi be directly repatriated to India from Dominica, the Cabinet of the Caribbean island country decided in a meeting, according to local media. The Cabinet minutes published by the local media showed that “Choksi matter” was one of the agenda items discussed during the meeting on Wednesday. It was held that the business was now the “problem” of Dominica and if he were to come back to Antigua and Barbuda, the “problem reverts” to it.

The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gaston Browne and attended by all his ministers decided that law enforcement officials would continue to gather intelligence on the circumstances of Choksi’s “departure” from Antigua, said media outlet Antigua Breaking News.

“The preference of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda is for Choksi to be repatriated to India from Dominica,” the Cabinet minutes said.

Later, speaking to media, Information Minister Melford Nicholas also said the government prefers that pending cases before Antiguan courts related to the revocation of Choksi’s citizenship and his extradition to India be heard much sooner in the light of developments in Dominica and expedited, AntiguaNewsroom reported.

The case will come up for hearing in November.

Nicholas said intelligence agencies briefed the Cabinet on the circumstances leading to Choksi’s disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda but refused to say anything further, calling the information classified, it reported.

When asked about the mystery woman allegedly involved in Choksi’s disappearance, he said he couldn’t speculate on the matter.

Choksi had mysteriously gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen since he fled Delhi.

He was detained in neighbouring island country Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.

His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.

A Dominica High Court is hearing a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Choksi challenging his illegal detention.

He was also brought before a Roseau magistrate, on the orders of the High Court, to answer charges of illegal entry. He pleaded not guilty but was denied bail.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the Rs 13,500-crore

scam rocked the Indian banking industry.

The duo allegedly bribed officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking (LoU) on the basis of which they availed loans from overseas banks that remained unpaid.

The allegedly corrupt bank officials did not enter these LoUs in the core banking software of PNB, thus evading scrutiny. The non-payment of these LoUs or bank guarantees worth Rs 13,500 crore resulted in default and became a liability on the bank.

Modi escaped to Europe and was finally held in London, where he is contesting his extradition to India. Choksi took the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017.

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