CBI moves request for Choksi's extradition from Antigua (Lead)

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New Delhi : The extradition request for fugitive diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, who has secured an Atiguan passport and is living there, will soon be sent to the Caribbean country, the CBI said on Friday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the Rs 13,500-crore banking fraud allegedly committed by the jeweller and his nephew Nirav Modi, said that its letter to get Choksi deported has been forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The CBI sent on Monday the letter to the Union Home Ministry which in turn forwarded it to the MEA, an official said.

In its request to the Home Ministry, the CBI said Choksi's extradition was being sought "on grounds of principle of reciprocity and dual criminality".

A source revealed that the MEA has received the extradition request from the CBI and is currently in the process of conveying it to the authorities in Antigua and Barbuda.

India and Antigua are signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) -- a multilateral treaty negotiated by the member-states of the United Nations and promoted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the CBI pointed out in its request.

Choksi is said to have fled India on an Indian passport in the first week of January 2018. The Antiguan government is believed to have cleared his application for citizenship in November 2017, for which he may have paid around Rs 1.3 crore.

He took the oath of allegiance as a citizen of Antigua on January 15. Days later, on January 29, the CBI filed a case and started investigating Choksi and Nirav Modi.