Govt shielding those involved in fraud: Congress on Choksi

New Delhi: Hours after Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne described fugitive diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi as a “crook”, saying that he would be extradited to India, the Congress hit out at the BJP-led NDA government, accusing it of protecting people involved in fraud and theft of public money.

Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “The Antiguan Prime Minister has squarely indicted the BJP government for protecting those who have committed fraud and theft of public money – people like Mehul Choksi.”

Quoting the Antiguan Prime Minister, Surjewala said, “He said that we got flawed information and the Indian officers have to take responsibility for that situation.”

“It clearly shows that somebody in the very high up of present government was trying to protect ‘Hamare Mehul Choksi Bhai’. As this government has put it repeatedly,” Surjewala added, mocking the government.

The Congress leader was responding to a question over the Antiguan Prime Minister hitting out at Indian government officials for giving false information to his government.

Browne also said that it was “unfortunate” that Choksi was cleared by Indian officials as a person in “good standing” only to be told later that he is a “crook”.

Choksi, who is wanted in India in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case along with fugitive diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

Choksi had taken the citizenship of Antigua in January 2018. He had fled from India before the case came to light.

The Interpol has issued a red corner notice against him and a Mumbai court has issued non bailable warrant against him.

Earlier this year, Choksi had moved the Bombay High Court and said that he is willing to join the investigation if his questioning was held in Antigua or via video conferencing in the light of his medical condition. But the ED rejected his plea and said that he has to return to India for questioning.

Choksi has also said that he has left India for his medical treatment abroad and not to avoid prosecution in the case. Countering his submission, the ED told the court that the best medical facilities are available in India and would be provided to Choksi if he returns to India.

The 59-year-old Choksi has refused to return to India, apprehending “mob lynching”.

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