Mehul Choksi , an Indian businessman and diamond merchant, has been making headlines for his alleged involvement in a multi-billion dollar banking fraud case. However, his attorneys have been working tirelessly to create a narrative that he cannot receive a fair trial in India. This has convinced some people, who have bought into the idea that Choksi is a victim of persecution by the Indian authorities.
Moreover, his lawyers and hefty bribes have helped Choksi to convince law enforcement agencies that he was kidnapped, further complicating the case. In this context, it is crucial to examine the facts of the case and separate the truth from the fiction.
According to reports by financial crime expert Kenneth Rijock, officials of the Government of Antigua were suspected of receiving significant payments for their alleged involvement in safeguarding Mehul Choksi. Rijock suggests that these officials are receiving bribes to protect Choksi from extradition to India, where he faces criminal charges. These allegations, if proven true, would be a severe blow to the credibility of Antigua’s government and justice system.
In the case of Choksi’s disappearance, his lawyers and certain media outlets have reported that Indian authorities were responsible for his attempted abduction in Dominica. However, the truth is that the plane allegedly sent by Indian authorities to bring Choksi back was not even present in Dominica when Choksi went missing. A chartered jet reportedly arrived in Dominica six days after Choksi’s arrest in the country, which clearly indicates that Indian authorities were not involved in his disappearance, at least not in Dominica. These conflicting reports only add to the complexity of the case and make it harder to discern the truth.
In addition to the claims of Indian authorities being involved in Choksi’s attempted abduction, his lawyers and certain media outlets have also alleged that he was forced to meet with someone named Narinder Singh, who is alleged to be a RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent. However, according to immigration records of Antigua and Barbuda, there is no evidence that any person named Narinder Singh entered the country during the time that Choksi was allegedly made to meet him. This casts further doubt on the veracity of the claims made by Choksi’s lawyers and media outlets and highlights the need for a thorough and unbiased investigation into the case.
Mehul Choksi, who has been labelled as a mastermind of a multi-crore banking fraud case in India, has made slanderous allegations against the administrations and police of both Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica. In a statement, Choksi claimed that he was kidnapped by eight to ten Antigua policemen from the Jolly Harbour vicinity. Later, he accused a high-ranking official of the Dominica police of receiving him in the destination country. These allegations have created further confusion in the case and have put the authorities of both countries under scrutiny. It remains to be seen whether there is any truth to these allegations.
It all started in 2017
Fearing his arrest over the USD 1.2 billion fraud case in India, Mehul Choksi, a diamond merchant by profession, managed to flee the country. In 2017, he took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda with his wife Preeti Choksi and absconded on 7 January 2018. Before anything came public, Choksi left India. While he was in Antigua and Barbuda, his lawyers managed to get stay orders on his case, on grounds that he could not return to India due to his medical treatment in the Caribbean country. But unfortunately, they could not fool the judicial authorities for much longer, resulting in various warrants being issued by the authorities in his name, asking him to immediately return and respond to the charges. Which, eventually he did not do, and continued fighting the fraud case while sitting in Antigua and Barbuda.
As the Republic of India does not allow the provision for holding dual citizenship, Mehul Choksi had to surrender his Indian passport to the Indian consulate in Guyana in 2019. Many media organizations reported it as just another move to avoid extradition to India.
The government of Antigua and Barbuda has now moved forward to rescind his citizenship on the basis that he provided false information while applying for citizenship. Mehul Choksi has challenged it, and the case is currently ongoing in court. So, Mehul Choksi is now fighting two major cases in Antigua and Barbuda, one associated with his extradition to India to face the charges, and the second is for his citizenship.
The mysterious disappearance
As per reports, ahead of a major verdict on his extradition case in May 2021, Mehul Choksi again planned an escape. It is alleged that he planned to abscond Antigua and Barbuda.
In May 2021, he mysteriously disappeared from Antigua and Barbuda. Kenneth Rijock reports that the events leading to his disappearance started in 2018 when he was accused of USD 1.2 billion-dollar fraud and money laundering in India. His wife reported him missing on 24 May 2021 at the St John’s Police Station.
Just two days after his disappearance from Antigua and Barbuda, Mehul Choksi was found on a remote beach in Dominica. As per reports, he was en route to Cuba, where he had an argument with his transporters who then left him stranded after he failed to pay the agreed amount. Following that, authorities in Dominica arrested him for illegal entry.
Mehul Choksi and his lawyers claimed that he was abducted jointly by Antiguan and Indian authorities to extradite him back to India. However, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda refused the allegations of abduction during an address in the National Assembly.
The American investigator Kenneth Rijock said as per his findings the abduction story of Mehul Choksi has no factual backing and is clearly a plot to cover up his escape to Cuba. In his report, Rijock emphasized that Mehul Choksi had planned to abscond to his safe house in Cuba, as it does not have any extradition treaty with India.
“Three hours into the journey to Cuba, Choksi received a call on his satellite telephone, and as the result he became worried. He advised Emanuel (his transporter) that he no longer wanted to travel to Cuba anymore. It seems that he had a problem with someone there. He asked Emanuel to drop him off in DOMINICA. He told Emanuel that he could not return to Antigua because his family had already reported him missing, and the police would be searching for him,” wrote Kenneth Rijock in his report.
Rijock also outlined that the names such as Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh accused by Mehul Choksi in his abduction story, have no link with the entire incident. As per statements of Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh they had no idea who Mehul Choksi was and had no relation with any Indian authority. They proved that they had gone from the UK to the Caribbean for sailing purposes. Some documents from the immigration department confirm that the two Britishers in question had already left Antigua and Barbuda country long before Mehul Choksi left his house from Jolly Harbour.
Kenneth Rijock’s report further stated that Mehul Choksi portrayed as he was kidnapped from his tourist friend Barbara Jarabik’s house, whereas in reality, he faked the kidnapping so that he can go with the Jamaican Transporters to Cuba willingly in their boat.
After the entire investigation, the police authorities of Antigua and Barbuda stated that there was no evidence to support the theory of the kidnapping and forceful abduction of Mehul Choksi.