ED files affidavit in Bombay HC seeking rejection of Mehul Choksi's appeal against FEOA court order

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court requesting it to reject an appeal against Mehul Choksi as a fugitive offender.

Choksi, accused in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, is a "fugitive and absconder", the ED told the Bombay High Court on Monday.

The agency, in its affidavit, sought dismissal of two petitions filed by Choksi — one against a plea for him to be declared a fugitive economic offender and the second to permit him to cross-examine those persons on whose statements the ED is relying on to declare Choksi a fugitive economic offender.

 ED files affidavit in Bombay HC seeking rejection of Mehul Choksis appeal against FEOA court order

File image of Mehul Choksi. ANI

The ED, in its affidavit submitted on Monday to a division bench headed by Justice I A Mahanty, said Choksi is accused of siphoning and laundering money to the tune of Rs 6,097 crore in the PNB scam, and despite having issued summons directing him to appear before the agency, he has said he does not intend to cooperate with the probe.

"He is a fugitive and absconder. He has deliberately and intentionally evaded from appearing before the investigating agency even after a special court has issued non-bailable warrants against him. This shows that he does not have any regard for the law of the land," the affidavit said.

"It is apparent that the applicant (Choksi) has left India to avoid criminal prosecution for the offence of money laundering under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and continues to refuse to return to India to face criminal prosecution," it said.

It added that Choksi has already taken citizenship of Antigua which clearly shows that he has no intention of returning to India to cooperate with the probe.

The agency further said that under the FEOA, if the fugitive appears in person before the court then the proceedings can be terminated. However, it said, if the person fails to do so the court can declare him a fugitive economic offender and can confiscate his properties.

"The sole purpose of the Act is to compel the fugitive to return to India and face the proceedings initiated against him," the affidavit said.

The Act was introduced as an effective, expeditious and constitutional way to stop offenders from running away, it added.

In January this year, Choksi had given up his Indian citizenship and surrendered his passport to Antigua in an attempt to avoid extradition to India.

Choksi had also surrendered his Indian passport number Z-3396732 with cancelled pages to the Indian High Commission in Antigua. He had deposited the mandatory $177 dollar for leaving Indian citizenship. He has given his new address as Jolly Harbour Marks, Antigua.

Choksi, chairman of Gitanjali group, is one of the alleged masterminds in the PNB fraud case and is an uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi.

In January this year, the extradition process against the absconding diamond jeweller had begun in Antigua, official sources said on Wednesday.

The ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had sent across documents to authorities in Antigua to peruse and send back Choksi to India along with his nephew Modi and others.

In December last year, the Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice Choksi on the request of the CBI.

In September last year, the ED had sent a reminder to Interpol about its application seeking a red corner notice against Choksi in connection with the alleged PNB scam.

--With PTI inputs


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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2019 12:30:06 IST