New Delhi: Gitanjali Gems promoter Mehul Choksi Tuesday described all charges levelled against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as “false and baseless", a day after the ED sent a reminder to Interpol to issue a red corner notice against the fugitive jeweller.
In an interview to ANI, Choksi also claimed the external affairs ministry had suspended his passport without any provocation or explanation, and that the ED had attached his properties “without any basis".
Also read: PNB fraud: Mehul Choksi diverted over ₹ 3,250 crore to foreign shores, says ED
Officials who have been investigating the matter stated that Choksi’s comments came at a time when both the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were waiting for a red corner notice to be issued against him.
“These comments hold no ground. First, he is reacting because his properties are now being attached under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act. Second, agencies had told him to go to the nearest Indian mission after his passport was suspended and he would be given passage to India - but he did not do so," said an investigating official familiar with the developments.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for the ₹ 14,356 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud. Choksi’s statements come after Indian investigating agencies traced him to the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda in July.
Speaking to Mint, Choksi’s lawyer Sanjay Abbot said, “I do not know anything about these comments nor do I have any association with them and neither do they hold any linkage to the confiscation of properties." Choksi turned up in Antigua after securing a local passport—a move that has now thwarted the chances of Indian investigating agencies closing in on him.
According to the citizenship rules of Antigua and Barbuda, Choksi was required to make a contribution to the country’s National Development Fund of a minimum non-refundable amount of $200,000, or an investment of at least $400,000 into an approved real estate project for a minimum of five years, or an investment of a minimum of $1.5 million directly into an eligible business as a sole investor.
Interpol on Monday issued a red corner notice against Nirav Modi’s sister Purvi Modi, two months after it issued one against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal Modi and their executive Subhash Parab.
On 20 August, the UK confirmed Nirav Modi’s presence in the country. However, Interpol is yet to act on a red corner notice request by ED and CBI against Mehul Choksi.
ED on Monday stated that it had requested Interpol to issue a detailed arrest warrant against Mehul Choksi, following a chargesheet filed by the agency in a Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court in Mumbai in July.