New Delhi: Scrambling to nab fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has set the wheels in motion to extradite him from Antigua and Barbuda.

“The Central Bureau of Investigation had sent the extradition request for Mehul Choksi to the Union home ministry, which was forwarded to the ministry of external affairs this week, on Monday," said a person familiar with the developments.

However, the investigation agency stated that, “We did not get any query on Mehul Choksi from Interpol or the Antiguan government in the last few months."

A red corner notice is yet to be issued for Choksi by Interpol.

Responding to questions on how a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) — required by foreign governments for Indians traveling abroad and staying in their countries for short durations for business or other work related activities — was issued to Mehul Choksi, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that is was done on “the basis of a clear Police Verification Report (PVR) available on his passport."

A “clear" PVR indicates that there is no criminal case pending against a person applying for a PCC, said a person familiar with the development. Charges of defrauding Punjab National Bank were brought in later ie only in 2018 by the CBI, the person said adding that the PCC was issued in 2017.

According to Kumar, all passport issuing authorities can issue a PCC if there is a clear Police Verification Report (PVR) in the system. If there is no PVR, then it is obtained prior to issuance of a PCC, he said.

“As the PVR of Mehul Choksi was clear in the system at the time of issuance of PCC, the process followed by Passport Office, Mumbai was as per extant instructions," Kumar said.

On Friday, just a week after fugitive businessman and Gitanjali Gems promoter Choksi was traced to the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Antigua stated that he was considered a “fit and proper candidate" for citizenship after Indian government agencies cleared him last year and said there was “no adverse information" against him.

Choksi, who is the prime accused in the 14,356 Punjab National Bank scam (PNB), had taken oath of citizenship in Antigua in January.

“The police clearance certificate from the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs, Regional Passport Office, Mumbai, certified that there was no adverse information against Mr. Mehul Chinubbhai Choksi which would render him ineligible," said the statement by the Citizenship By Investment Unit (CIU).

Last month, the government of Antigua had confirmed that Choksi had moved to the country and had secured a local passport there.

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