New Delhi: A Dominican court on Thursday denied bail to fugitive diamantaire, Mehul Choksi, wanted over the ₹ 13,500 crore PNB bank loan fraud case in India – for illegally entering into the Caribbean island nation from Antigua.
Choksi, who appeared before the magistrate court on a wheel chair in a blue T-shirt and black shorts, pleaded not guilty for the alleged crimes before the court and submitted he was allegedly kidnapped into the Island.
“Various non-nationals in Dominica are on bail for similar matters, so we are of the view that bail can be granted to our client. Let stringent conditions be added to the bail condition, including a bail sum of $ 10,000 double the maximum penalty, for illegal entry,” Choksi’s lawyer argued in court.
The Dominican government contended that bail should not be granted to Choksi as he is a flight risk.
“Choksi has no ties in Dominica hence it would serve him no purpose not to flee the island if bail is granted. Choksi has an Interpol Red Notice against him as he is facing charges for 11 offences in India,” submitted Dominica countering the arguments of Choksi’s lawyers.
After hearing both the sides, the Magistrate rejected the bail plea of Choksi.
“Given the severity of the matter, I am not convinced to grant bail,” Magistrate Candia Carrette-George ruled.
The diamantaire, who mysteriously went missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he had been staying since 2018 as a citizen, was detained in neighbouring Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.
Last week, the Government of Dominica had issued a press statement that it was verifying the status of Mehul Choksi’s citizenship with Antigua and Barbuda.
A CBI team has jetted to Dominica to bring Mehul Choksi to India if the court there clears his deportation.
Mehul Choksi’s arrest has created turbulence in the calm political waters of the neighbouring Caribbean Island countries – Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica – where allegations have been levelled against opposition parties supporting the businessman.
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted for allegedly siphoning ₹ 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) using letters of undertaking.
While Nirav Modi is in a London prison after being repeatedly denied bail and is contesting his extradition to India, Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment programme before fleeing India in the first week of January 2018.