Mehul Choksi, the fugitive businessman and the most wanted in the 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, has been denied bail by a Dominican Court today. The fugitive trader, who appeared before Magistrate court in a wheelchair wearing a blue T-shirt and a black shorts, is facing charges of illegally entering the Caribbean Island Nation from Antigua.
Choksi pleaded not guilty in front of court for the alleged crime and stated that he was allegedly kidnapped into the Island. His lawyer argued that Choksi was abducted from Antigua on May 23 and brought to the neighbouring country where he was tortured.
“Various non-nationals in Dominica are on bail for similar matters, so we are of the view that bail can be granted to our client. Let stringent conditions be added to the bail condition, including a bail sum of $ 10,000 double the maximum penalty, for illegal entry,” Choksi’s lawyer added in the court.
The Dominican Government contended against Choksi’s bail considering him as a flying risk.”Choksi has no ties in Dominica hence it would serve him no purpose not to flee the island if bail is granted. Choksi has an Interpol Red Notice against him as he is facing charges for 11 offences in India,” added by Dominica countering Choksi’s lawyer.
Considering the arguments of both the sides the Magistrate today refused bail plea of Mehul Choksi. A CBI team has also reached Dominica to bring Choksi back to India, if the court clears his deportation. The Indian government argues that Choksi is still an Indian citizen.
Notable is, Choksi had taken up Antiguan citizenship who has been living there since 2018 and is rumoured to be with his girlfriend on a romantic trip. The issue has become a political hot potato in the Carribean with opposition in both Antigua and Dominica slamming their governments over handling the issue.