Mehul Choksi, the fugitive jeweller wanted in India in connection with the ₹13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has been denied bail by the Dominica high court, news agency ANI reported on Saturday citing local media.
Judge Wynante Adrien-Roberts of Dominica high court denied bail to Mehul Choksi after the conclusion of the submissions made by both sides. The court also highlighted that Mehul Choksi did not offer any strong surety before the court while he sought bail and he is a flight risk too, Antigua Newsroom reported. Choksi’s lawyers argued for bail citing medical grounds and not a flight risk.
Mehul Choksi, Adrien-Roberts said, has no ties to Dominica and that it cannot impose any conditions which will assure it that he wouldn’t abscond, according to ANI. The high court also pointed that Choksi proposed he will stay with his brother in the hotel, which is not a fixed address. The court also noted that his trial has not started yet.
Currently, he has got interim relief from immediate repatriation to India by the Dominican high court, according to ANI.
The 62-year-old fugitive will appear before Magistrate court again on Monday on a charge of illegal entry into Dominica, the Antigua Newsroom said.
The court verdict comes a few days after Dominica Prime Minister termed Choksi as an “Indian citizen”. “The matter with this Indian citizen is before the courts, the courts will decide what happens to this gentleman and we allow the court process to go through,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was quoted as saying in the local media.
Mehul Choksi was caught when he was allegedly trying to escape to Cuba from Antigua, where he had been living since 2018 after leaving India. He reportedly left Antigua and took a boat to neighbouring Dominica. With an Interpol lookout circular against him, he was caught by the police from a beach in Dominica.
Choksi’s lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.
The diamond jeweler, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is wanted by Indian investigating agencies for allegedly swindling ₹ 13,500 crore as loans from state-run Punjab National Bank using fake documents. Nirav Modi, jailed in London, is contesting his extradition to India.