Choksi got citizenship after India okay: Antigua

Choksi got citizenship after India okay: Antigua

Antigua has claimed that it granted citizenship to fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi only after receiving clearance from the Government of India.

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (A&B) said that the owner of Gitanjali Gems had submitted a police clearance certificate issued by the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai, when he had submitted his application for citizenship of the island nation in May 2017.

The RPO in Mumbai had certified that it had no adverse information against Choksi which would “render him ineligible for grant of travel facilities including visa for Antigua and Barbuda”, the CIU of the island nation's government stated.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted in India by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate for allegedly defrauding PNB Rs 14,000 crore. The duo fled the country in the first week of January.

New Delhi of late sent a request to UK Government to extradite Modi to India. Choksi was also traced to Antigua and it came to light that he had already taken citizenship of the archipelago much before the PNB scam came to light and the CBI and the ED launched the probe.

All Regional Passport Offices across the country are under administrative control of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of the Government of India. The A&B Government's statement prompted the MEA to clarify that the RPO in Mumbai had issued the police clearance certificate to Choksi on March 16, 2017 as the Police Verification Report on his passport had been found to be 'clear'.

“The PCC (police clearance certificate) was issued on the basis of a clear Police Verification Report (PVR) available on his passport,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the MEA, said. He noted that all passport issuing authorities could issue a police clearance certificate on the basis of a clear police verification report in the system. “As the PVR of Mehul Choksi was clear in the system at the time of issuance of PCC, the process followed by RPO in Mumbai was as per extant instructions,” said Kumar.

The CIU of the A&B Government issued the statement after India stepped up pressure on the West Indies nation to detain Choksi and extradite him to India. It claimed that it had taken “all reasonable steps” to ensure that the jeweler was “a fit and proper candidate for the grant of citizenship as allowed under the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Act”.

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