In a startling revelation, CNN-News18 has accessed pictures of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi with his agent, who purportedly helped him escape from Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua police sources told CNN-News18 that efforts are on to identify the man.
According to the initial probe, the man was attempting to take Choksi to Cuba through the sea route, but the plan was foiled after he was nabbed in Dominica.
Govin, Choksi’s close friend in Antigua, has exposed his plan to leave Antigua and settle in a safehouse in Cuba. Govin has revealed that the fugitive diamantaire holds another citizenship of a Caribbean country, apart from Antigua and Barbuda, police sources said.
Indian intelligence sources also told CNN-News18 that Choksi made up his kidnapping story as he knew about the Antigua government’s commitment to send him back to India.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before a multi-crore scam in the Punjab National Bank rocked the Indian banking industry. The duo allegedly bribed officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking (LoU) based on which they availed loans from overseas banks that remained unpaid.
Choksi had mysteriously gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen after he fled Delhi.
He was detained in the neighbouring island country Dominica for illegal entry. His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen, who looked like Antiguan and Indian, and then brought to Dominica on a boat.
‘Bruises, blood-eye cannot be held as evidence of Choksi’s abduction’
Top intelligence sources from India told CNN-News18 that Choksi cooked up his abduction story and that all details regarding the case will be released to the public domain after investigations.
According to Antigua government sources, media reports being circulated in India are versions by Choksi’s family and lawyers. The information being shown in reports has no authenticity, and investigation in the case is ongoing, they said.
Various media outlets have reported that two boats may have been used in the operation involving his entry into the island nation. However, Antigua government sources said the report was still being investigated, as the timing of Choksi’s disappearance and the boats’ departure did not match.
They added that Choksi was well aware of Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s commitment to send him back to India, after which he allegedly decided to attempt to shift from the island nation.
Since it was impossible for Choksi to officially travel out of the country — as Interpol had earlier issued a red corner notice against him — the only way out for him was to cook up a ‘missing’ story, the sources added.
Legally, the bruises and blood-eye cannot be held as evidence of Choksi being abducted, the sources in the Antigua government said, adding that Choksi and his aides were merely fuelling a false story to divert attention from the real issue.