Fugitive diamond dealer Mehul Choksi, wanted in connection with a Rs 1,300 crore bank fraud, has been removed from Interpol’s red notice database. He has been on the list since December 2018.
Indian investigative agencies have been trying to deport him back to India. Interpol said it found the substance to Choksi’s allegations that India tried to “kidnap” him. Indian investigative agencies have been trying to deport him back to India. Removing from the red notice means Choksi is free to travel worldwide without fear of being apprehended by law enforcement agencies.
According to the Hindustan Times, the Interpol order said: “The ultimate purpose of the applicant’s abduction from Antigua to Dominica is likely to be the applicant’s deportation to India.” It also added that Choksi might face the “risk of not receiving a fair trial or treatment if returned to India”.
Choksi challenged the red notice before a five-member Interpol committee tribunal known as the Document Control Committee, PTI reported. The notice was issued in 2018, nearly 10 months after he fled India in January of that year to seek refuge in Antigua and Barbuda, where he was granted citizenship.
A Red Notice is the highest level of an alert issued by Interpol’s 195 members to law enforcement agencies worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest persons awaiting extradition, surrender or similar legal proceedings.
Not only has the Red Notice against Choksi been lifted, but the language in the Interpol ruling suggests he may have been “kidnapped” from Antigua and Barbuda to Dominica in May 2021 by or at the request of Indian authorities. It is a “credible possibility” that he is now a citizen and is the focus of attention in India.
Regarding India’s arguments before the Interpol committee, an official told HT, “We (India) at Interpol strongly disagree with his charges and have indicated that he may flee Antioch if his red notice is withdrawn. Gua, where the extradition process is at a critical stage. Also, he is wanted in several cases,” said an official.
Another official told the media that “the withdrawal of the Interpol Red Notice will not affect our investigation or extradition request in Antigua”.
The CBI has filed separate bank fraud charges against Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi. According to the CBI, Choksi, who defrauded Rs 7,080.86 crore in one of the largest banking scams in Indian history, was also accused of defaulting on more than Rs 5,000 crore. On the other hand, CBI alleged that Nirav Modi embezzled another Rs 6,000 crore.