London: The removal of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s name from the Interpol database of Red Notices has drawn condemnation from the Opposition parties in India, while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has sought the restoration of the notice.
Mehul Choksi is the owner of Gitanjali Group, a jewellery firm with 4,000 stores in India. He, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, are wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam. Choksi and Modi are accused of conniving with bank officials to have fraudulent Letters of Undertaking (LoU) and Foreign Letters of Credit issued to companies owned by them. In this case, no securities were kept by the PNB before issuing the LoUs.
The case came to light in January 2018, when the PNB submitted a fraud report to the Reserve Bank of India. CBI filed an FIR in the case a week later. By this time, Choksi had already fled the country.
Choksi is wanted in India for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and financial misappropriation. An arrest warrant has been issued against him.
Choksi had acquired the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 and was living there from 2018. However, he went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, 2021, and was soon caught in Dominica. While Choksi claimed he was kidnapped, he was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica. In May last year, Dominica dropped these charges against him.
Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice. A Red Corner Notice, or Red Notice (RN) alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
Interpol says “Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence. A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.”