New Delhi: In a major setback to Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi, Antigua foreign minister assured that its government will ‘honour any legitimate request’ to extradite Choksi who became a citizen of Antigua much before the $2 billion fraud at Punjab National Bank came to the limelight.
According to a report in Antigua’s The Daily Observer newspaper, foreign minister EP Chet Greene gave the assurance after a cabinet meeting on Thursday. It is beyond the reach of investigators to get hold of Choksi as Antigua do not have an extradition treaty with India.
However, Antigua has made it clear that they will not allow the absence of a treaty stand in the way. The minister said, “However, if a request is received, we will honour any egitimate request made of us notwithstanding that we do not have any extradition agreements with India. That is the extent of our commitment to preserving the integrity of our (Citizenship by Investment) programme.”
Antigua’s scheme that lets the world’s wealthy pick up a second passport, however, has been sharply criticised because it is not perceived to be stringent enough.
Mehul Choksi’s surprise statement this week that he had taken up the citizenship of the twin island-nation “to expand my business interest in the Caribbean” and obtain visa-free travel access to 132 countries is seen in this context. The statement is seen as an effort to underline that the idea wasn’t to escape the law.