PNB bank fraud: Congress accuses Modi government of facilitating Mehul Choksi's escape

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The Congress on Tuesday accused the Modi government of leaving gaping holes in the process of repatriation of PNB bank fraud accused Mehul Choksi and giving him a clean chit that enabled him to escape from the country early this year.

New Delhi : Congress Communications In-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala referred to Choksi's remarks in a video interview in which he has denied allegations of any wrongdoing and said he had received an email from the passport office on February 16 this year that his passport has been suspended.

"It is intriguing that Modi government allowed passport of Choksi to remain valid till Feburary 16, helping him escape on January 4, 2018," Surjewala told reporters. He referred to the written reply given in Parliament to a question by party leader Kapil Sibal.

"Shocking details based on a parliamentary reply of July 24, 2018 as also details from Antigua's Citizenship By Investment Unit (CIU) have lifted the cover from the sins committed by every organ of the Modi government - PMO, MEA, CBI, SEBI -- that facilitated and gave a ‘clean chit' to Choksi. It also conclusively exposes the barrage of lies that ministers in the Modi government were trying to plant in the mainstream media," Surjewala said.

He said the PMO has admitted in the reply that the first report of action against Nirav Modi/Mehul Choksi was given to PMO by Finance Department on March 1, 2018.

He said Nirav Modi, also accused in the PNB bank fraud case, had escaped from the country on January 1, 2018. "Complicity of PMO and Finance Ministry in the escape of Nirav Modi/Mehul Choksi is thus writ large. Why did PMO wait till March 1 to get a report on fraud by Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi? Does it not prove their complicity in the matter?" he asked.

Surjewala alleged that the PMO, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments and several other agencies "deliberately ignored evidence of fraud and multiple complaints" against Choksi and another bank fraud accused Nirav Modi since May 7 2015.

Surjewala said a complaint was filed with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on May 7, 2015 and copies were sent to Prime Minister's Office, Enforcement Directorate, Serious Fraud Investigation Office and SEBI. A similar complaint, he said, was filed with Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mumbai.

Surjewala said an FIR was filed in Ahmedabad Economic Offences Wing against Choksi and and the matter went to Gujarat High Court in which the state government was a party.

He said an affidavit was filed in the court on July 20, 2016 pointing out that Choksi and others owed Rs.9,872 crore to banks and were likely to escape from India.

Surjewala said the press statement by CIU reveals how clean chit was given for Choksi's citizenship of Antigua in May 2017.

"The clearance certified that there was ‘no adverse information' against Choksi. The CIU also states that SEBI had also given ‘clean chit certificate' to Choksi," he said.

Surjewala said Interpol gave clearance to Choksi as CBI and Enforcement Directorate failed to get a warrant issued against him or provide the requisite evidence.

The Congress leader said Modi met Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne April 20 this year on the sidelines of CHOGM summit but did not raise the issue concerning Choksi.