Choksi case: Private jet sent by India leaves Dominica


New Delhi: The Qatar Airways’ private jet that was sent by India to bring back fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi from Dominica has left the Caribbean island country after nearly seven days, according to public flight data.

The Qatar Executive flight A7CEE had left the Delhi International Airport at 3.44 AM on May 28 carrying necessary documents related to cases against Choksi. It had travelled to Marigot in Dominica via Madrid as Choksi’s lawyers filed a habeas corpus petition before the Dominica High Court.

The aircraft was parked at Marigot for nearly seven days to bring back Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, to India.

The jet took off from the Melville Hall Airport in Dominica at 8.09 PM (local time) on June 3 as the High Court adjourned the hearing on Choksi’s petition on Thursday.

The publicly available flight path shows the jet travelling towards Madrid.

However, Indian agencies did not confirm if their teams that had gone to bring back Choksi are returning on the flight.

According to media outlet Antigua News Room, Judge Bernie Stephenson will decide the next date of hearing in Choksi’s case after meeting both sides.

The adjournment is to allow lawyers of Choksi and the government of Dominica “to agree on the language to be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from Dominica”, Antigua News Room reported.

Thursday’s hearing was conducted through videoconferencing with a group of protesters standing outside the High Court building in Roseau carrying placards with messages seeking to know the truth about the controversy.

“Who brought Choksi to Dominica?” read one of the placards, the photo of which was published by many media outlets.

A habeas corpus petition is filed for producing before a court a person who is under arrest or in unlawful detention.

The judge had on Wednesday ordered production of Choksi before the magistrate to face charges of illegal entry into Dominica.

The 62-year-old wheelchair-bound diamantaire, who has a pending Interpol Red Notice against him, arrived before presiding Roseau Magistrate Court in black shorts and a blue T-shirt from Dominica China Friendship Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment. His application for bail was rejected.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January 2018, weeks before the PNB scam rocked the Indian banking industry.

The duo allegedly bribed officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking (LoU) on the basis of which they availed loans from overseas banks that remained unpaid.

The allegedly corrupt bank officials did not enter these LoUs in the core banking software of PNB, thus evading scrutiny. The non-payment of these LoUs or bank guarantees worth Rs 13,500 crore resulted in default and became a liability on the bank.

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

He was detained in neighbouring island country Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.

His lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.

Modi escaped to Europe and was finally held in London, where he is contesting his extradition to India. Choksi took the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017. (PTI)