Give us details on Choksi, CBI tells Antigua (Lead)
New Delhi : The CBI on Wednesday said it had written to the Antiguan authorities seeking details of Mehul Choksi's whereabouts in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank fraud case.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) source told IANS that on Tuesday the agency wrote to the Caribbean nation seeking details of the owner of the Gitanjali Group of companies, who is being sought in India by investigators, along with his nephew Nirav Modi.
The source also said that the query had been sent as a follow-up to the "diffusion notice" (a request to Interpol for the arrest of a specific person) seeking information on Choksi's location.
According to the source, the CBI has sought to know when he reached the Carribbean country.
"The CBI had already issued a diffusion notice and on that basis they (Antiguan authorities) should have responded," he said.
However, the red corner notice (RCN) request from the CBI to the Interpol against Choksi is still pending.
Earlier in July, the Interpol issued the RCN against fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, his brother, a Belgian national, Nishal Modi and an executive of his firm Subhash Parab.
Asked when Interpol would issue a RCN against Choksi, the CBI official said that Interpol had raised certain queries after it wrote to them to issue an RCN. "The Interpol has asked about the validity of warrants against Choksi and specific role of the individual in the alleged crime," the source said.
Responding to the queries of the Interpol, the CBI source said that the agency attached the non-bailable warrants and charge-sheet copies issued from the Indian courts against Choksi.
"As of now no queries from Interpol in relation to Choksi is pending with us," the source said.
The CBI move comes after it was revealed on Tuesday that Choksi had moved to Antigua from the US several weeks ago using an Antiguan passport. The revelation came from Antiguan authorities in response to a CBI diffusion notice circulated to foreign countries through Interpol.
The CBI came to know of it last week and shared the information with the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Both the CBI and the ED have been probing the multi-crore fraud allegedly committed between 2011-2017.
According to the source, once the RCN is issued against Choksi, he will be technically restricted to the Carribbean islands only.
On July 11, the ED asked a special court in Mumbai to declare both diamond merchants -- Choksi and Nirav Modi -- as "fugitives" under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018 because they had fled India a month before they were named in the fraud case on January 31.
The ED has been probing two cases of money laundering against Choksi, Nirav Modi and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on the basis of an FIR registered by the CBI.
In these cases, the ED had on May 24 and May 26 filed prosecution complaints or charge-sheets against Choksi and Nirav Modi.
The court has taken cognisance of the charge-sheets and issued non-bailable warrant against both of them.
On the request of the ED and the CBI, the Interpol had earlier issued RCN against Nirav Modi.