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INTERPOL ties up with CBI to arrest Mehul Choksi

Interpol inquired with the CBI about certain “human rights violations” listed by Mehul Choksi, an accused in the Punjab National Bank scam.

ET Bureau|
Jul 30, 2019, 09.52 AM IST
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Mehul Choksi, an accused in the Punjab National Bank scam
Mumbai: The CBI has recently written to the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol), requesting it to explain how it defined elements that constituted human rights violation, people in the know of the development said.

This, after Interpol inquired with the CBI about certain “human rights violations” listed by Mehul Choksi, an accused in the Punjab National Bank scam, as he sought to scrap a red corner notice (RCN) issued by the international police organisation against him, the people said.

An RCN is a request to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. The CBI, which had sought Interpol’s help to arrest Choksi, is awaiting its response.

Choksi is believed to be in Antigua. Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Alfonso Browne had recently talked about extraditing Choksi once all his legal remedies were exhausted. Last month, the Enforcement Directorate rejected Choksi’s latest offer to join the investigation via videoconference or to appear before its probe team in Antigua. The agency instead offered him an air ambulance along with a team of medical experts to ensure a “safe journey back home” as he had claimed that he was medically unfit to travel

“While the RCN against his nephew, Nirav Modi, who is a co-accused in the case, was issued in July last year, that against Choksi was issued only by December of that year after satisfying multiple queries raised by Interpol. These questions pertained to matters concerning his security, prison conditions, the case not being a politically motivated one, all had been answered in detail and to the satisfaction of Interpol; following which the RCN was issued,” said one of the people. “However, Choksi has again approached Interpol for cancellation of the RCN pleading human rights violations. Based on his plea, Interpol has again written to the CBI seeking details on the concerns raised by him. Since these are on the same grounds as contended by him earlier, the CBI has written to Interpol to understand what it classifies as human rights violation so as to reply to its latest communication accordingly and to its satisfaction.”

Another argument of Choksi to seek cancellation of the RCN was that the total area of Antigua was a little over 280 square kilometres and hence it would not be a problem for the probe team to locate him in the island nation. He claimed that he was medically unfit to travel and was staying in Antigua.

Both Choksi and his nephew are being probed by the ED and the CBI in the case. While the ED is probing the money-laundering aspect of the case, the CBI is concentrating on the other aspects of the alleged Rs 13,570 crore fraud.

While rejecting the jeweller's offer to join investigation in Antigua, the ED had requested the Bombay High Court to direct Choksi to return to India “at the earliest”.

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