cities

Centre complicit in Choksi’s escape: Cong.

The Congress on Friday said statements from Antiguan authorities regarding fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi’s citizenship application process in the Caribbean island last year, exposed the “complicity and connivance” of the government.

Party president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that India had given a clean chit to Mr. Choksi in November 2017, helping him get Antiguan citizenship.

Congress communication chief Randeep Surjewala questioned why the Prime Minister’s Office did not act nor direct other agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) to move on two complaints dated May 7 and May 26, 2015, against Mr. Choksi.

Inaction of agencies

“Why did the CBI/ED not move the Interpol for a warrant against Mehul Choksi or provide the requisite evidence of criminal fraud against him?

“Is it not correct that this deliberate failure on part of the CBI/ED led to Interpol giving a clean chit to Choksi?” Mr. Surjewala said.

News reports have quoted Antiguan authorities as saying that Indian agencies didn’t provide any adverse information against Mr. Choksi during background checks ahead of granting citizenship to one of the main accused in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraudulent LoU case.

The Congress also alleged that the Ministry of External Affairs had issued a clean chit to the fugitive businessman when there were complaints pending against him.

“Why did not Prime Minister Narendra Modi raise the issue of citizenship during his meeting with Antiguan PM Gaston Browne in April, 2018?” the Congress leader said.

Mr. Surjewala claimed that when Mr. Choksi left India on January 4, 2018, he was already a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda that “gives him a visa-free access to travel [to] around 132 nations”.

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