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Interpol drops Mehul Choksi from Red Corner list, fugitive diamantaire can now travel freely

New Delhi: The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has removed the name of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi from the Red Corner list, ThePrint has learnt.

According to sources in the intelligence, Choksi had moved a plea seeking to scrap the RCN (Red Corner Notice) issued by Interpol in December 2018, citing “human rights violations” but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had contested it. 

The Interpol, however, earlier this year, took a decision to remove Choksi’s name.

According to sources in the intelligence, an affidavit that Choksi filed in a court in Antigua and Barbuda claiming that he was “abducted and tortured by agents of the Indian government in May 2021” and taken to Dominica, a Carribean island, against his will, has a role to play in the decision.

It was on 29 May 2021 that a private jet took off from India to the Caribbean country and Choksi, who went missing from Antigua on 23 May, too surfaced there. Choksi’s attorney Wayne Marsh had then claimed that Choksi was abducted by some people who looked like “Indians along with Antigua Police”, hinting that it was indeed an operation by the Indian agencies to get Choksi out of Antigua.

An RCN is a request issued by the Interpol to locate and provisionally arrest an individual awaiting extradition. It is issued by the General Secretariat of the global police body at the request of a member country or an international tribunal based on a valid national arrest warrant.

With the RCN now revoked, Choksi can travel to any other country at will.

“It appears that the Interpol felt that Choksi would face trouble if returned to India. He also alleged that he was beaten and forcefully taken off from Antigua which may have gone against the Indian agency,” a source said. 

ThePrint contacted the spokesperson of the CBI, the nodal agency for the Interpol in India, via texts and phone calls, but did not receive any response. This copy will be updated when a response is received. 

Choksi, who along with his nephew and co-accused Nirav Modi, also a diamantaire, fled the country in 2018, and has acquired Antiguan citizenship. He is a key accused in the Rs 11,000 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

Choksi allegedly made the PNB issue 143 Letters of Undertaking (LOUs) and 225 Foreign Letters of Credit amounting to more than Rs 5,000 crore to three of his companies. These, in effect, make Choksi a bigger defaulter than Nirav Modi. 

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Interpol had earlier raised queries over RCN

Before the RCN was issued against Choksi, the Interpol had raised several questions with both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over the need for such a notice, in 2018.

In October 2018, the Interpol asked the ED to share a brief summary on the case, exact allegations against Choksi, some clarifications on the sequence of events leading to the registration of the case and attachments and evidence against him, a second source in the intelligence said.

It also raised an objection to Choksi’s case being mixed up with that of Nirav Modi, while both were operating in individual capacity, heading different companies, the source said.

The Interpol reportedly raised similar queries with the CBI and asked them to respond to Choksi’s concerns about poor jail conditions in India and anomalies in the agency’s case against him, the source said.

It was in December that the RCN was issued against Choksi on the CBI’s request, after a lot of back and forth, the source said. 

(Edited by Geethalakshmi Ramanathan)

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Source: The Print

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