Revive Mehul Choksi’s Red Notice: CBI to Interpol

The CBI has requested an Interpol board to reinstate the Red Notice against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, citing “severe deficiencies, procedural irregularities, excess of mandate, and mistakes” in its previous decision to remove his name from the list.

The Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF), which removed Choksi’s name from the list of fugitives last year based on his appeal, is a separate Interpol body that is “not under the control” of the Interpol Secretariat and is primarily staffed by elected lawyers from various countries where people can challenge decisions to declare them fugitives.

The CCF withdrew Choksi’s name from the Red Notice list in November 2022 after on numerous petitions by Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,000 crore bank fraud at Punjab National Bank and is holed up in Antigua and Barbuda after fleeing India in 2018.

The 195-member International Police Cooperation Organization Interpol has issued a Red Notice to identify and temporarily arrest a fugitive pending extradition, surrender, or comparable judicial procedure.
The CBI declaration came a day after the CCF decision was disclosed in the media, sparking a tremendous political outcry.

The agency said it broke its quiet roughly four months after receiving CCF’s decision to remove Choksi from the wanted list in November 2022, nearly a month after India hosted a huge Interpol General Conference.

The CCF consented to Choksi’s new request in 2022, a year after a claimed kidnapping attempt from Antigua and Barbuda, after rejecting his two earlier pleas — in 2018, to not publish his name on the Red Notice list and in 2020, to remove his name from the list.

Before making a decision, the CCF consults with the agencies that have requested an absconder’s fugitive status. The CBI was also requested to comment on Choksi’s appeal.

“It was explained (by the CBI) that the desperately wanted criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi has been making every effort to undermine existing extradition processes in Antigua and Barbuda in order to dodge the legal process in India.” “However, a five-member CCF chamber has issued a decision on the deletion of Red Notice, communicated in November 2022, based on mere hypothetical conjunctures and untested surmises,” the CBI stated.

According to the statement, the CBI has raised with CCF the major flaws, procedural irregularities, overreach of mandate, and mistakes made by CCF in obtaining this baseless and perfunctory judgement.

“The CBI continues to pursue all available remedial and appeal measures within INTERPOL to correct this erroneous judgement and restore the Red Notice,” it stated.

The CCF then reiterated to the CBI that its judgement “in no way has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Choksi” for crimes for which he is still prosecuted in India, according to the agency. The CCF has stated that “it has not proven factual certainty and there is no factual finding in its determination that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi will not enjoy fair trial”.

The CBI stated that even Antigua officials believe there is adequate evidence to show that Choksi hid material information or made false representations when applying for his Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, a fact that reflects on this criminal’s previous conduct.

According to the agency, CBI is revising the CCF decision based on fresh facts and major mistakes in the judgement.

Choksi fled India in the first week of January 2018, just days before the Rs 13,000 crore was discovered at the PNB.

Interpol added his name to the Red Notice list of most wanted fugitives in December 2018 at the request of the CBI and Enforcement Directorate.

“It may be recalled that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi was already located prior to the posting of the Interpol Red Notice and efforts were also launched for his extradition. Although the fundamental goal of the Red Notice had already been met, it was kept in place as a preventive measure, according to the CBI.

In February 2018, the CBI issued a diffusion notice to find Choksi. The CBI traced his travels in close direct contact with international law enforcement organisations, and he was found in Antigua & Barbuda, where he had gained citizenship a year before fleeing India.

“In August 2018, an extradition request was made through diplomatic channels to competent authorities in Antigua and Barbuda,” according to the statement.

Choksi was arrested by the CBI on February 15, 2018, and after the CCF ruling, the agency filed new FIRs against him.

“In the case of wanted criminal Mehul Choksi and others, the CBI has already filed two charge sheets…

Following that, in 2022, the CBI filed five further criminal cases against Mehul Choksi and others for cheating banks and financial institutions,” it claimed.

According to the FBI, while extradition proceedings against Choksi were underway in Antigua and Barbuda, he began approaching several international forums with entirely fabricated and fictitious narratives in order to create distractions.

“Faced with the prospect of imminent extradition from Antigua and Barbuda, wanted criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi approached various international forums and also approached CCF in July 2022 to revise its earlier decision of 2020 (rejecting his claims”),” the agency stated.

Choksi vanished from his sanctuary in Antigua and Barbuda in May 2021, only to reappearance in neighbouring Dominica, where he was arrested for unlawful entry.

The CBI deployed a team to Dominica to bring him back, but quick legal manoeuvring by Choksi’s lawyers ensured he was returned to Antigua and Barbuda and all allegations of unlawful entry were dismissed. His lawyers claimed that he was kidnapped from Antigua and Barbuda.

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Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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