PNB scam: Citing ill-health, Choksi opposes fugitive offender tag in court

Absconding PNB scam-accused Mehul Choksi. File photo

Absconding diamond trader Mehul Choksi, a prime accused in the multi-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, on Tuesday cited "health issues" to seek dismissal of the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) plea to declare him a "fugitive economic offender".

In one of the 10 applications filed by Choksi on Tuesday before the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court of judge M S Azmi, the diamond trader stated that he cannot take a "41-hour" flight to come to India due to a "brain clot" and other medical conditions.   

He has filed the applications through his lawyer Sanjay Abbot.

Choksi's prime argument was to seek cancellation of the ED's complaint against him under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA) on "health grounds". 

The court Tuesday directed the ED to file its reply on Choksi's pleas and adjourned the matter till November 17.

 

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly defrauding the PNB to the tune of Rs 134 billion apparently in collusion with few of its employees.  

The ED had prayed that Choksi be declared a "fugitive economic offender" for evading summons to appear before the agency and that his properties be confiscated under the provisions of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.

"The ED has made an averment that the accused had left the country under suspicious circumstance in January and deliberately avoided joining investigation in spite of issuance of summons for his appearance," Choksi said in his plea.

However, the allegation is not true as the accused has not deliberately/intentionally refused to return but was unable to return because of his persisting medical conditions, it said.

 

Choksi mentioned his "medical condition" he has been suffering "since 2012" in the application.

"The accused is having a clot in his brain since 2012 and he is also a diabetic since the last 20 years. Coupled with heart problem, it has resulted in multiple medical complications making it extremely impossible for him to travel on long flight of 41 hours," the application said.

Choksi's nephew Nirav Modi, a co-accused in the PNB case, had Monday filed an application before the same PMLA court opposing the ED's complaint to have him declared a "fugitive economic offender" under the FEOA.

Modi had also filed 10 applications, but his prime argument was that the ED's complaint had not been filed in accordance with the law and, thus, must not be considered valid by the court.

 

The PNB scam, which reportedly began in 2011, was detected in January this year, after which PNB officials reported it to the probe agencies.

Two criminal complaints were filed by the ED in this regard after taking cognisance of CBI FIRs.  



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