Wed, 28 Jul 2021

Saint John's [Antigua], June 22 (ANI): Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne on Tuesday said that he was not aware of any evidence that fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi was abducted and taken to Antigua.

PM Browne faced a barrage of questions on Mehul Choksi in parliament by the MPs.

Answering a question whether he or the Minister of National Security aware or if any other investigative body has found any evidence that Mehul Choksi was taken to Dominica by involuntary means, Browne said, "I'm not aware of evidence, but there's information in the public domain Mehul Choksi was abducted.""And I'm aware that law enforcement here would have done some research, and perhaps may have some individuals of interests, but in so far as evidence is concerned, I am not aware that there is any such conclusive evidence. I am not aware that the sea vessel would have breached the security of the state, my understanding is that the vessel ostensibly that was utilised to abduct MC came here legally, so I am not aware that there is any such legal....," Browne said while answering a query related to the integrity of Antigua and Barbuda borders.

He also said that the royal Antigua and Barbuda police force issued the yellow notice to Interpol in the first instance to try and locate Mehul Choksi when he was reported missing.

"It's well known that throughout the Caribbean region, we have relatively porous borders because of all of the different keys and the different beaches, and evidently we do not have enough resources including manpower," he said.

"It is an area that we continue to struggle with, we have been assisted by the US government and other external agencies to help us to build capacity in that area. But admittedly, it is one of the weak areas in which the countries in the Caribbean, you know, they all have porous borders," he added.

Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 after going out for dinner and was soon caught in Dominica. He was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India.

The Government is actively engaged with the Dominican government to seek the early deportation of Choksi.

Choksi's lawyers have claimed that he was kidnapped and didn't go to Dominica of his own free will.

The 62-year-old fugitive is wanted in India in connection with a Rs 13,500-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB). (ANI)

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