Mehul Choksi says 'exaggerated' allegations in PNB fraud case, fragile health make it impossible for him to return to India
Diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, co-accused in the Rs 13,540 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has said that 'exaggerated' allegations by multiple investigating agencies has left him 'completely defenceless' and that he feared for his safety to return home
New Delhi: Diamond merchant Mehul Choksi, co-accused in the Rs 13,540 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has said that "exaggerated" allegations by multiple investigating agencies have left him "completely defenceless" and that he feared for his safety if he were to return home.
In a two-page letter, dated 16 March, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Choksi denied he was a partner in Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond and Solar Exports.
These firms have been accused of conducting fraudulent transactions with Firestar International and Firestar Diamond International owned by his nephew Nirav Modi, who is also an accused in the PNB fraud case.
The companies were named by the CBI in an additional FIR filed on 14 February. Choksi was summoned by the CBI on 16 March for questioning in the case.
Reiterating that it was "impossible" for him to return to India, Choksi said his health was not conducive and his passport remained suspended.
"Till date, the Regional Passport Office (in Mumbai) hasn't communicated with me and my passport remains suspended. I have the deepest respect for your offices and assure you that I am not making any excuse, whatsoever, to travel to India," he said.
"I reiterate that I am abroad and have earlier also responded to your notices. Surprisingly, the issues raised remain unaddressed, making my fear of safety rise to extreme levels," he added.
He questioned the CBI move to name him in another case related to the bank fraud "knowing fully well that I have no concern whatsoever" with Diamond R US, Stellar Diamond, Solar Exports. "I am neither a partner (of these firms) nor do I have any kind of association with the three concerns," he said.
He said various actions by multiple agencies taken against him and "the manner in which the allegations have been exaggerated" had left him "completely defenceless".
"In any case", he said, "I am extremely held up in my business abroad and I am working hard to resolve the issues it is facing due to the unnecessary closure of business in India because of untenable allegations." Choksi had left the country along with his nephew and other family members in January this year.
He said doctors had advised him "not travel for a period of four to six months".
"I am unable to travel to India due to my persisting health condition. In February 2018, a cardiac procedure was conducted and medical follow-ups still remain as the entire procedure could not be completed. The situation still remains," he said.
The US examiner has obtained evidence of a number of transactions that appear to constitute round-tripping of loose diamonds among the Firestar global entities and the shell companies floated by Nirav Modi.
PNB scam: Mehul Choksi writes to CBI again, says he's defenceless post exaggerated allegations; won't return anytime soon
Mehul Choksi was summoned to appear before the CBI on 16 March for questioning in the case
PNB scam: Did UPA cook up 80:20 scheme to aid the Choksis and Nirav Modis; is Raghuram Rajan guilty of ignoring early warning?
The PNB scam was not about hoarding of gold but outright fraud conducted by diamantaire Nirav Modi in collusion with certain bankers forging Letter of Undertaking (LoU) from the bank for a good seven years