It has been over two years since the investigation began into the matter of Mehul Choksi’s disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda in May 2021. Throughout this period, the investigating agencies have been tirelessly probing the circumstances surrounding the case, seeking to uncover the truth behind Choksi’s alleged abduction.
Despite the passage of time and the resources invested, the authorities are yet to find any convincing evidence to substantiate diamond merchant’s claims that he was actually abducted.
In the case of alleged abduction, Mehul Choksi claims to have been forcibly taken from one country to another. However, there is no CCTV footage, eyewitness accounts, or any other documented proof to support these allegations, aside from the statement of Choksi himself—a fugitive who defrauded over $2 billion. Choksi’s expensive legal team has not been able to provide a convincing reason for law enforcement agencies or the public to believe his narrative, given the apparent attempts to delay his extradition.
As a testament to the legal maneuvering in this case, Mehul Choksi was able to secure the withdrawal of a red corner notice against himself by arguing that he was a victim of human rights violations. This development casts further doubt on the credibility of his (Choksi’s) claims about his abduction.
The lack of concrete proof has led many to question the veracity of his narrative, casting doubts on whether the alleged abduction indeed took place.
As a result, top officials of the government, including the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General, have called for an end to the investigation, citing concerns about the unnecessary expenditure of taxpayers’ money. They argue that the ongoing probe has not yielded significant results, and continuing it would only drain valuable resources without bringing the case any closer to a resolution.
Paid Media and Expensive Lawyers
Lawyers representing Mehul Choksi have reportedly been funnelling funds to numerous news channels and specific journalists in an attempt to influence the local narrative surrounding their client’s case. By strategically investing resources in media outlets, they hope to ensure that their version of events gains traction and public support. This calculated approach extends beyond the borders of Antigua and Barbuda, as Choksi’s legal team has also been leveraging their contacts in the UK, Europe, and the US to get their narrative published by various news providers.
Meanwhile, residents of Antigua and Barbuda have expressed their growing frustration over this positive image-building campaign in favor of Mehul Choksi. Many believe that the funds used to manipulate media coverage have been earned through illegal means by defrauding people of India of over US $2 billion by Mehul Choksi in PNB scam. This public outcry indicates a rising tide of dissatisfaction among the general population, who feel that the influence of Choksi’s legal team is skewing the portrayal of the case and undermining the pursuit of justice.
A new development in the Mehul Choksi case involves the arrest of Barbara Jarabik in Dubai, one of the individuals accused of abducting Choksi. The arrest occurred after Interpol issued a Red Corner Notice, demonstrating international collaboration in tracking down those allegedly involved in Choksi’s disappearance. However, the situation took an unexpected twist when the UAE Court dismissed the case against Jarabik due to a lack of sufficient evidence to support the kidnapping allegations. This outcome has further intensified doubts surrounding the validity of Choksi’s claims and the solidity of the case against the accused. Eventually, Interpol also withdrew red corner notice against her due to lack in evidence.
In light of these events, a Dubai-based lawyer has weighed in on the matter, also highlighting the lack of substantial evidence to support the fugitive Mehul Choksi‘s claims. The dismissal of the case by the UAE Court and removal of red corner notice against Barbara Jarabik has reinforced concerns about the legitimacy of Choksi’s abduction narrative, casting further doubt on the entire case. This outcome not only undermines the efforts of Choksi’s legal team to maintain their client’s narrative.
Police Report Alleged of Fabrication
According to the accusations made by Mehul Choksi, certain tourists were involved in his alleged abduction. However, the police report seems to merely outline the itinerary of these tourists, detailing their hotel visits and meetings with various irrelevant individuals. It is important to note that simply being present in the area and engaging in such activities does not automatically imply involvement in criminal activities. Without concrete evidence linking these tourists to any wrongdoing or demonstrating a direct connection to Choksi’s case, the accusations appear to be based on speculation rather than solid proof.
There are two main theories surrounding the alleged kidnapping of Mehul Choksi, both of which appear unlikely. First, if the motive was to collect ransom, there has been no evidence of any communication or calls seeking ransom from Choksi’s family. Second, if the kidnapping was a state-led operation by the Indian government, the timeline is inconsistent, as the plane sent to take Choksi back to India landed in Dominica six days after his disappearance. In light of these considerations, neither scenario seems plausible in explaining the mysterious disappearance of Mehul Choksi.
Tarique Ghaffur CBE QPM, a former Assistant Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, conducted an investigation in 2021 concerning the alleged kidnapping of Mehul Choksi. His findings revealed that the tourists accused of the abduction including Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Bhandal were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ghaffur’s investigation ultimately concluded that these individuals had no connection to the kidnapping, dispelling the allegations against them. In his investigative report, he stated that the travelers were not involved in any activities connected to Choksi’s escape or abduction theories.
Independent Investigation by Kenneth Rijock
Kenneth Rijock is a former banking lawyer turned financial crime consultant, who has spent decades working in the field of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. Rijock has leveraged his unique insights and expertise to assist governments, law enforcement agencies, and financial institutions in combating financial crime. In the case of Mehul Choksi, Rijock has prepared an investigative report (Click here to download the report) that seeks to unravel the complex web of events and allegations surrounding the Indian businessman’s disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda. The report examines various aspects of the case, including Choksi’s conflicting statements, the alleged involvement of accomplices, and the credibility of the abduction narrative, presenting an in-depth analysis of the facts and evidence gathered thus far.
Findings of Kenneth Rijock:
About Kenneth Rijock: – He has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of money laundering, as a practicing laundryman, financial compliance consultant, and trainer/lecturer to law and intelligence agencies including the RCMP. He has testified three times before US Congress committees.
· Purpose of the investigative report: – The report will investigate and analyze available information to determine what happened to Choksi and provide an accurate account of the events surrounding his disappearance.
· Background of Mehul Choksi:- Mehul Choksi is an Indian businessman who was owner of Geetanjali Group, a retain jewellery company with over 4000 stores in India. In 2018 when he was accused of fraud and money laundering in India and subsequently fled the country. He fled to Antigua and Barbuda and applied for citizenship, which he was granted in November 2018. In May 2021, it was reported that Choksi had gone missing from Antigua.
· Different versions of disappearance:-
i) As per Mehul Choksi, he was apprehended from Antigua and following individuals were involved in the kidnapping – Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh, and Gurjit Bhandal. Role of Indian and Antiguan authorities also highly suspected.
ii) As per another version, Mehul Choksi faked his kidnapping since he was apprehensive over extradition from Antigua to India and was trying to flee Antigua.
iii) He might have wanted to flee from Antiguan authorities. He was found and arrested in Dominica after a few days.
· Types of evidence gathered during investigation:-
i) Oral:-Statements made by Mehul Choksi, persons he had accused of his kidnapping- Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh, and Gurjit Bhandal.
ii) Documentary: – The leaked information from police department of Jamaicans who transported Choksi, and the police report on the official investigation, some documents from sources.
· Report divided into Six Chapters:-
i) Version of Mehul Choksi-On 23rd May, 2021, he went to meet his friend Barbara Jarabik at her home in Antigua, where he was kidnapped by 8 to 10 people who looked like Antiguan Police Officers. They transported him to a boat on which two Indians Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh were present. They made him speak to an Indian Official who told that he will send Mehul back to India. Then they took him to Dominica and handed him over to the Police.
ii) Details of the two British Indians Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh, the Hungarian tourist friend Barbara Jarabik- As per statements of Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh they had no idea who Mehul Choksi was and have no relation with any Indian authority they had gone from UK to Caribbean for sailing purposes and had hired a boat from Antigua to Dominica. There are documents regarding their arrival in Antigua, immigration check on the way from Antigua to Dominica, which support their version. During Customs and Immigration clearance the boat was thoroughly inspected and there were five persons on boat-03 crew and 02 guests. There is statements of the Captain of the boat that they took mentioning that there were five people on the boat- three crew and two guests. The details and the timings mentioned by him support the version of the two British Indians.
Barbara Jarabik states that she did not even know the real name of Mehul Choksi and knew him as Raj. He approached her and showed interest in coming closer to her. She denied anything to do with his kidnapping or any contract with any agencies.
iii) Jamaican Transporters – As per leaked documents from Police Department two Jamaican nationals had a meeting with Mehul Choksi in April, 2021, that they would transport Choksi to Cuba in lieu of money. On 18th May, 2021 date of travel was fixed as 24th May, 2021.
However, on 23rd May, 2021, Mehul Choksi asked them to come on 23rd itself, on which the Jamaican crew agreed for 24th May, 2021 early morning. As per the report, Choksi did this change since Barbara Jarabik changed her plan of leaving Antigua from 24th to 23rd May, 2021. He portrayed as he was kidnapped at her house with her connivance, whereas in reality he was faking the kidnapping so that he can go with the Jamaican Transporters to Cuba willingly in their boat. However, enroute Cuba, he received a call and asked the Jamaicans to drop him Dominica instead of Cuba and inform the Dominica Police.
iv) Police Investigation Report- As per the initial investigation by Antigua Police, they supported the version of kidnapping of Mehul Choksi with Barbara Jarabik, Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh as person of interest.
v) Statements by Antigua Prime Minister and later statements by Police – They said there is no evidence to support the theory of kidnapping and forceful abduction.
vi) Findings- Contradictions in version of Mehul Choksi –
a) No signs of breakage in the house where Mehul was
b) Change of statements by Mehul Choksi regarding his 23rd May, 2021 evening plan.
c) Change of statements by Mehul Choksi regarding identity of his kidnappers.
d) As per Mehul Choksi’s allegation he was kidnapped by Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh and taken in a boat. However, statements of Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh, and the Captain of their boat, documents regarding immigrating in Antigua and Dominica do not support his version at all.
e) Why would Barbara Jarabik plan kidnapping at her own house, that also around 0500 PM.
f) Change of plan from 24th May, 2021 to 23rd May, 2021 by Mehul Choksi since Barbara Jarabik changed her plan to leave Antigua from 24th May, 2021 to 23rd May, 2021.
g) Police authority intentionally ignored some vital evidence and witnesses.
The report findings show that Mehul Choksi had become apprehensive that India might be able to extradite him from Antigua. The findings show that to escape the Indian authorities, he decided to go to a country that had no extradition treaty with India. The plan was to abscond, without telling anyone and make it appear like a missing case. So, he honey-trapped Barbara Jarabik by gifting jewellery and other attempts to gather her complete information to put missing blame on someone. The investigation also revealed that while Mehul Choksi and his transporters were en route to Cuba, he received a satellite call informing him that Cuba is no longer a secure location and that he should reconsider his decision due to potential threats. After the change in plans, Mehul Choksi requested his carriers to relocate the boat to Dominica, believing that the entire plot of “disappearing” being modified to “kidnapping” would aid his extradition case on the grounds of human rights, so preventing his extradition to India. All the tourists involved/accused including Barbara Jarabik, Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh appears actual tourists who are victims of the MASTERPLAN of Choksi.
If Mehul Choksi was kidnapped or abducted by the Indian agencies, it is unlikely for them take him to Dominica where extradition is even more difficult. In that scenario, he would have been taken to a state/country with close diplomatic relations to India or international airport for direct transportation to India. It is noteworthy that the Indian law enforcement authorities only arrived in Dominica seven days after Mehul Choksi went missing, suggesting that if the Indian state had been involved in his disappearance, he would have been returned to India by now. This absence of any known motive for kidnapping and the lack of any intervention from the Indian state lead to the conclusion that the Indian state was not involved in Choksi’s disappearance.
Take away points from the investigation –
i) Kenneth Rijock kept his mind open and investigated keeping all the possibilities- actual kidnapping of Mehul Choksi, faking kidnapping by Mehul Choksi, role of Indian and Antiguan authorities, role of Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh, and Gurjit Bhandal.
ii) He relied on both oral as well as documentary evidences available to discredit some of the possible theories and to come up with his final conclusion.
iii) The same was presented in a very clear manner. The evidence of all the points he had concluded have been clearly mentioned in the report.