Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, absconding in the Punjab National Bank fraud case, has reportedly given up his Indian citizenship by surrendering his passport to the Antiguan government to avoid extradition. Choksi's move comes as a big setback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's efforts to bring back economic offenders who have absconded from India, including Choksi, Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.
Choksi had fled to Antigua exactly a year ago as the Rs 14,000-crore worth scam came to light in January 2018. As per reports, Antiguan authorities cleared Choksi's citizenship in November 2017. Choksi had fled India on January 4, 2018, and took oath of allegiance in Antigua on January 15 that year. 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 had reported, citing a statement from the Citizenship by Investment Unit of Antigua and Barbuda (CIU).
The Gitanjali group promoter, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, has been one of the main accused for allegedly cheated the Punjab National Bank of more than Rs 13,400 crore with the purported involvement of a few of the lender's employees.
Upon confirmation of Choksi's residence in Antigua last year, the Modi government had requested authorities in Antigua and Barbuda a number of times to detain him. The government had also moved a request for Choksi's extradition to the Antiguan government. Recently, Parliament approved a bill, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, to empowering government agencies to confiscate properties of super-rich economic offenders in India and overseas.
The UK had recently informed India that Nirav Modi has been located in the country. India's requests for his extradition are currently under the consideration of the authorities concerned of the UK.