New Delhi: Days after Gitanjali gems promoter Mehul Choksi was found to have surfaced in Antigua and Barbuda, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai on Thursday issued fresh summons against Nirav Modi and Choksi to appear before it in the Punjab National Bank fraud investigations, failing which they would be declared as fugitive economic offenders.

The move comes as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has now been given powers under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill to confiscate the property of offenders in India and abroad. The bill was passed by Parliament on Wednesday.

While the court has directed jeweller Modi to appear before it on 25 September, his uncle and co-accused Choksi has been asked to appear on 26 September.

While Choksi’s lawyer Sanjay Abbot denied any such summons had been issued, Modi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal declined to comment on the matter.

Both Modi and Choksi are the prime accused in the 14,356 crore Punjab National Bank fraud.

The court’s orders come in the wake of reports of Choksi taking up citizenship in the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda. India’s investigating agencies—the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED—were informed of Choksi’s whereabouts on Monday.

In March, Choksi in an email to CBI claimed that “untenable" allegations had resulted in the “sudden closure" of his business and had exposed him and his family to “threats".

In the same email, Choksi also cited his medical condition and suspended passport to decline the agency’s request to join the probe.

“...till date the Regional Passport Office has not communicated with me and my passport continues to remain suspended... I assure your good offices that I’m not making any excuse, whatsoever to travel to India," Choksi stated.

Modi has also refused to join the CBI investigation citing his business engagements, prompting the agency to issue a stern letter in February asking him to appear before it.

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