- Antigua PM spoke to local newspaper on Mehul Choksi's citizenship
- His citizenship may get scrapped once he exhausts his legal options
- Revocation of citizenship will pave the way for his extradition to India
The Antigua citizenship of diamond trader Mehul Chokshi - wanted in India in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank scam -- will be scrapped once he has exhausted all his legal options, the government of the island nation has said, reported the Antigua Observer. The revocation of citizenship will pave the way for his extradition to India to stand trial in the case. Antigua -- among the many tax havens in the Caribbean -- has no extradition treaty with India. But Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has made it clear that his country will not provide "safe harbour for criminals, for those who are involved in financial crimes".
"Choksi's citizenship was processed, he got through. We do have recourse, the reality is that his citizenship will be revoked and he will be deported to India," the Antigua Observer reported Prime Minister Brown as saying.
India's Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said he does not have any information on this matter when asked about reports of Antigua revoking Mehul Choksi's citizenship.
"I do not have information on this matter, I would not like to comment on it," S Jaishankar told reporters.
Mehul Choksi skipped India in January last year. Six months later, it became known that he had taken Antigua citizenship. The process was completed two months before the scam surfaced in February and he was investigated, which was why when Antigua asked India to give details of cases against him, he got a clean chit.
Regarding a possible time frame of the cancellation of citizenship, Mr Brown said: "We have to allow for due process. He has a matter before the court and as we said to the Indian Government, criminals have fundamental rights, too, and Choksi has a right to go to court and defend his position. But I can assure you, after he has exhausted all of his legal options, he will be extradited".
The 59-year-old has refused to return to India, saying he fears "mob lynching".
India had cancelled the passports of both Choksi and Nirav Modi in February, after investigators uncovered the huge loan fraud at PNB. Nirav Modi was arrested on March 20 in UK and has been in Her Majesty's Prison Wandsworth, one of the largest prisons in Western Europe.