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Fugitive Indian Diamantaire Mehul Choksi Alleges Kidnapping Attempt

The 62-year-old is wanted in India in connection with a $1,810 million fraud in the Punjab National Bank.

NEW DELHI — Fugitive Indian diamantaire Mehul Choksi has said Indian agencies “made attempts to kidnap” him despite being available for cooperation with the agencies who are probing a bank fraud case against him. 

The 62-year-old fugitive is wanted in India in connection with an INR 13,500-crore ($1,810 million) fraud in the Punjab National Bank.

Given bail by the Dominica High Court for medical help, Choksi said his medical condition has worsened, and he will be seeking medical help from a neurologist based in Antigua, where he will be traveling back.

Choksi said he had been “till now” seriously considering returning to prove his innocence in India, but his “medical condition is terrible.” He also said he is “seriously apprehensive” about his safety in India.

Choksi arrived in Antigua and Barbuda on a private plane. He will be receiving medical treatment locally and will report to the Dominican authorities on his condition, and every time he leaves his home.

“I am back home, but this torture has left permanent scars on my psychology and physically, rather permanent scars on my soul,” said Choksi. 

“I couldn’t imagine after closing all my business and seizing all my properties, kidnapping attempt would be made on me by Indian agencies.” 

He said that he told probe agencies to visit Antigua to interrogate him. 

“Many times, I told agencies to visit here to interrogate me as due to health issues, I was not able to travel anymore. I was always available for cooperation with the agency, but this inhuman abrasion kidnapping was never expected by me,” said Choksi. 

“Though till now, I have been seriously considering to return to prove my innocence in India. My medical condition is terrible, and it has worsened like anything in the last from the last 50 days of my kidnapping. I am seriously apprehensive about my safety in India. Don’t know if I’ll be back in normal physical or mental state.”

Choksi had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen.

His lawyers alleged that he was abducted from Jolly Harbour in Antigua on May 23 and was brought to Dominica on a boat. 

The Indian judicial authorities want him for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, and dishonesty, including delivery of property, corruption, and money laundering.

In the financial year 2021, India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, reported a total of 7,400 bank fraud cases across India. This was a decrease compared to the previous year and turned around the trend of the last decade. The total value of bank frauds decreased as well—from INR 1.85 trillion ($24.8 billion) to INR 1.4 trillion ($18.8 billion).

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Ritaban Misra)