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India says Jeweller Mehul Choksi still a citizen, pushing for Antigua extradition



Fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi, a main defendant in India's largest bank fraud case, is still an Indian citizen despite holding an Antigua and Barbuda passport, an Indian official told Reuters, adding the government is pushing for his extradition.

Choksi, who is one of the key people accused of defrauding Punjab National Bank of $2 billion, fled India before the accusations surfaced last year.

Bringing Choksi back to India would be a boon for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he tries to bolster his anti-corruption credentials ahead of a general election due by May.

Choksi, along with his nephew, diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, are accused of colluding with a handful of bankers to secure credit from overseas banks using fraudulent guarantees. Both have denied the allegations and have moved abroad.

Choksi has secured a passport from Antigua and Barbuda, where wealthy foreigners can become citizens in exchange for investing in the country.

But Indian officials still consider him an Indian citizen, Venkatachalam Mahalingam, the Indian High Commissioner to Guyana and Non-Resident High Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda as well as St. Kitts and Nevis, said in an interview in Georgetown last week.

"He has not renounced his Indian citizenship. We have revoked his passport, but that does not mean we have revoked his citizenship. We must agree if someone wants to renounce their citizenship; we have not agreed," Mahalingam said.

Courtesy- Money Control

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