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Choksi surrenders Indian passport

Choksi surrenders Indian passport
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Mumbai/New Delhi: Posing fresh complications for India, absconder diamantaire Mehul Choksi, one of the prime accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud, has surrendered his Indian citizenship in favour of Antigua & Barbuda Isles in the West Indies, official sources said on Monday.

Choksi, 59, acquired his new citizenship in 2018 and then subsequently deposited his cancelled Indian Passport No. Z3396732 and a mandatory fee of $177 for the other formalities, with the Indian High Commission in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

The Indian High Commission in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is also accredited to the Antigua & Barbuda and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Choksi's lawyers declined to comment saying they were no longer in touch with him.

Sources in the national capital said that despite the latest developments, the Indian government would continue its pursuit of Choksi with the government of Antigua & Barbuda through diplomatic and legal channels.

Choksi, along with his 47-year-old nephew Nirav Modi, are among many others charged with conniving with certain bank officials to dupe the PNB of over Rs 13,500 crore by issuing fake Letters of Undertakings (LoUs) to their group companies through the PNB's flagship Brady House Branch.

The development could present new hassles for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which was hoping for his extradition along with Nirav Modi and other relatives who are believed to be holed up in different countries.

Weeks before, the PNB first admitted to the massive scam on February 14, 2018, Choksi and Modi besides many of their family members had secretly fled the country, virtually catching the investigating agencies napping.

Before the fraud exploded in the public domain, the PNB had already lodged complaints with the Enforcement Director (ED) and the CBI in Mumbai seeking their help.

(With agency inputs)

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