Indian officials have received confirmation from Antigua that Mehul Choksi is in the country and will move to request extradition soon. The Antigua & Barbuda CIU, meanwhile, has issued a press release explaining the due diligence conducted on Mr. Choksi, and what they discovered during the process.
For background on the Choksi-case, see Due Diligence Blunder? Indian Billionaire Wanted for $2Bn Fraud Gets Antigua Citizenship and Indian Investigators Ask for Choksi’s Whereabouts, Antigua Govt. Will Cooperate “Within the Law”
Indian officials told reporters yesterday that they will likely initiate an extradition request through the Ministry of External Affairs. While India and Antigua have no extradition treaty, both countries are signatories to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which would obligate Antigua to comply with an extradition request.
Choksi, meanwhile, has moved the High Court of Antigua to prevent his extradition.
In a press release, the Antigua & Barbuda CIU have explained the circumstances leading to their approval of Choksi’s citizenship application.
PRESS RELEASE: JOHN’S, ANTIGUA, 2nd August 2018 – The Citizenship By Investment Unit (CIU) provides the following facts regarding the Mehul Choksi matter in an effort to provide clarity and address misinformation that has been circulating in the public domain.
Mehul Choksi’s application was received by the CIU in May 2017 with the necessary documentary requirements including a police clearance certificate as required by section 5 (2) (b) of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Act 2013.
The said police clearance certificate from the Government of India, Ministry of External Affairs Regional Passport Office, Mumbai, certified that there was no adverse information against Mr. Mehul Chinubbhai Choksi which would “render him ineligible for grant of travel facilities including visa for Antigua and Barbuda.
As with all applications submitted to the CIU, Mr. Choksi’s application was subjected to stringent background checks which included open source internet checks, Thompson Reuters World-Check, queries of various sanctions lists, engagement with regional and international intelligence agencies to include INTERPOL as well as contracted 3rdParty due diligence providers. It was only after the results of all of these checks had been received and assessed that a final decision was taken on the application. In no instance was any derogatory information disclosed on the applicant.
In the conduct of its due diligence, the CIU received documentation of two instances in which the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), in 2014 and 2017, opened investigations on a corporate entity owned by Mr. Choksi. We requested updates on the status of the investigations and received documentary confirmation, issued by the SEBI stating that in one case, the matter had been satisfactorily closed, and indicating in the other that there is not sufficient evidence to pursue the matter further. None of these matters is the subject of the current warrants issued by Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) in connection with the Punjab National Bank. It was also observed that 2016 Non-bailable Warrant was discontinued in October 2016.
The CIU’s keen review of online reports on this matter note that India’s CBI has indicated that INTERPOL had not made direct contact with them requesting information on Mr. Choksi. The CIU maintains, that this comment notwithstanding, that its background investigations do in fact include INTERPOL. Were there an active warrant for Mr. Choksi at the time his citizenship application was being processed, this information should have already been made available to INTERPOL, a notification of which would have been readily accessible by the CIU and its due diligence partners. Further, the warrant should have formed a part of the criminal records database in India and therefore declared in the police clearance certificate issued by Ministry of External Affairs.
The CIU’s investigations revealed that notice of the current investigation was first issued by Indian authorities to law enforcement on 31stJanuary 2018. As such, these matters emerged well after the background vetting process which would have resulted in the August 2017 approval of Mr. Choksi’s application and his subsequent registration as a citizen in November 2017.
The CIU assures the public that it took all reasonable steps to ensure that Mr. Choksi was a fit and proper candidate for the grant of citizenship as allowed under the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Act.