Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choki’s wife Priti Choksi today said that the woman, rumored to be Mehul Choksi’s girlfriend, is known to her husband and his other acquaintances. Her comment comes amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the fugitive diamantaire and demands for his extradition to India.
“The woman was known to my husband and to his other acquaintances. She walked with my husband periodically when she was visiting Antigua. From what I have understood from people who have met her, the woman shown on media channels is not the same woman that they knew as Barbara,” said Priti Choksi.
Her remarks come after Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne last week had said Mehul Choksi may have taken his girlfriend on a romantic trip to Dominica, where he was caught.
On the reports that the fugitive diamantaire was tortured in Dominica, Priti Choksi said, “What has brought most anguish to the family is the physical torture and total disregard for the human rights of my husband. If someone really wanted him back alive, why did they need to torture and abuse him physically and mentally? My husband has many health issues.”
On the question of Mehul Choki’s deportation to India, his wife said, “He is 63 years old and he is an Antiguan citizen. He enjoys all the rights and protection that the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution gives him. I have full faith in the rule of law and the justice system of the Caribbean nations. We await his safe and rightful return to Antigua at the earliest.”
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank to the tune of Rs 13,500 crore.
Mehul Choksi fled India and was granted citizenship by Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018.
Earlier today, Antigua Prime Minister told news agency ANI that his administration stands by its request for Dominica to extradite Mehul Choksi directly to India, “where he is still a citizen”.
“Instead of subjecting himself to an inquiry as required by law, he (Mehul Choksi) used the courts to stay the revocation of his citizenship,” Antigua PM told the news agency.
“My administration stands by its request to Dominica to extradite Mehul Choksi directly back to India where he is still a citizen,” he added.
The Antigua Prime Minister told the news agency that Mehul Choksi “changed his lawyer to a well-known member of the United Progressive Party who had promised him protection for campaign funding”.
“That’s why they want that he shouldn’t be deported to India, but be sent back to Antigua where he could continue to hide behind constitutional protections,” Mr Browne said.
A local newspaper, Associates Times, while citing sources had reported that Mehul Choksi’s brother, who is also a bank defaulter, allegedly promised election funding to Dominica’s Leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton in exchange for pushing Mehul Choksi’s abduction theory.
The sources said Mehul Choksi’s brother Chetan Chinu Bhai Choksi had met Mr Linton on May 30, where they discussed several aspects related to Mehul Choksi’s arrest and agreed on the commitment that in exchange for token money and promise of election donation, the opposition leader will press the matter in Parliament.
They also told Associates Times that Chetan Choksi disclosed during the conversation that Mehul Choksi had reached Dominica on his own, but they require the assistance of the Opposition to tackle the matter in court and against the Dominica government to make them believe that he was abducted by the Antiguan and Indian police.
Sources cited by Associates Times also said Chetan Choksi gave Lennox Linton token $200,000 and promised him over a million dollar in financial assistance for the upcoming general elections. In exchange, Lennox Linton would issue statements favouring Mehul Choksi.
Meanwhile, a team from India arrived in Dominica ahead of a Caribbean court hearing that will decide whether fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi will be deported directly to India.