Antigua has claimed it was told by Indian agencies there was no adverse information against Mehul Choksi, when it did a background check on the fugitive billionaire, before granting him citizenship in 2017, as per a media report in the Caribbean nation. While the Antiguan authority responsible for the grant of investment-linked citizenship named Sebi as one of the agencies to have given such a clearance, the markets regulator rejected the claim.
Choksi’s application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, Antiguan newspaper the Daily Observer reported, citing a statement from the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda (CIU).
“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 that would render him ineligible for the grant of travel facilities, including visa for Antigua and Barbuda,” the report said.
The authorities in the island nation did a thorough check on Choksi from open source global agencies, including Interpol, that there was “no instance” of any derogatory information against him, it added. The Antiguan authorities, as part of their own checks, found two instances of Sebi action against Choksi’s firms in 2014 and 2017 and sought more information on them, the report added.
It quoted the CIU as claiming Sebi had told authorities in Antigua that one case was “satisfactorily closed” and there was “insufficient evidence” to pursue the second matter. Sebi issued a statement on Friday denying these claims.
“Sebi has neither received any request from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of Antigua for updates on any investigation nor provided any such information to CIU,” the regulator said.
The CBI has sent an extradition request for Mehul Choksi to the government to be forwarded to Antigua where he has taken citizenship in November last year, an agency official said on Friday. Elaborating on the move, CBI sources said the agency has cited three grounds on the basis of which Choksi can be extradited to India to face trial.