Indicating that their country cannot be allowed to serve as a safe harbour for those involved in financial crimes, the government of Antigua in the Caribbean on Tuesday announced fugitive Indian businessman Mehul Choksi will be repatriated to India but only after he exhausts all of his legal options.
The government will also revoke his citizenship acquired under a Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).
"His citizenship was processed; he got through. But the reality is his citizenship will be revoked and he will be repatriated to India; so there is recourse. It’s not a case that we are trying to provide any safe harbour for criminals, for those who are involved in financial crimes", said Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Alfonso Browne in a statement.
Choksi, a diamond trade businessman, is accused of defrauding the Indian government-run Punjab National Bank of over $194 million (Rs 13,500 crore) with the help of his nephew Nirav Modi.
Choksi will be given the right to defend his position. But once his legal options are exhausted, he will be extradited, said Antiguan Prime Minister Browne.
In January 2018, Choksi surrendered his Indian passport and taken up Antiguan citizenship.
In August of the same year, the Indian government requested his extradition. The fugitive businessman then appealed to the Bombay High Court through his lawyer claiming that he had left India in January 2018 to undergo bypass surgery and not to avoid prosecution. He said that he would return to India once declared medically fit.
Meanwhile, his nephew and the second accused in the bank fraud case, Nirav Modi, is also fighting extradition proceedings from Britain.
On 12 June, the UK High court rejected Modi's fourth bail application, saying there were substantial grounds to believe that he would not surrender and continue to abscond from Indian law.