CBI approaches Interpol CCF to restore Red Corner Notice against Mehul Choksi

Why did the Interpol drop Choksi from its Red Corner Notice?

Why did the Interpol drop Choksi from its Red Corner Notice?
Why did the Interpol drop Choksi from its Red Corner Notice?

CBI in active communication with INTERPOL after removal of Red Corner Notice against Mehul Choksi

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked an Interpol body to restore the Red Corner Notice against fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi terming its earlier decision to drop his name from the list had “serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes”. The Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) which had removed Choksi’s name from the list of fugitives based on his appeal last year is a separate Interpol body that is “not under the control” of the Interpol Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries where people can challenge decisions to declare them fugitives.

Based on repeated appeals from Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs.13,000 crore bank fraud in Punjab National Bank and is holed in Antigua and Barbuda after fleeing from India in 2018, the CCF removed his name from the Red Notice list in November 2022, the CBI said in a statement. Red Notice is the highest level of alert by the 195-member strong International Police cooperation organization Interpol to locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

The CBI statement came a day after the media reported the CCF decision causing a huge political uproar. The agency broke its silence nearly four months after CCF’s decision to drop Choksi from the wanted list was received by it in November 2022, nearly a month after India had organized a grand Interpol General Assembly, it said. The CCF which had rejected two previous appeals of Choksi — in 2018, to not publish his name on the Red Notice list and in 2020, to remove his name from the list — agreed with his fresh plea in 2022, a year after an alleged abduction attempt from Antigua and Barbuda, the agency said.

Before arriving at any decision, the CCF hears the agencies that have sought an absconder’s fugitive status. The CBI was also asked to provide its input on Choksi’s appeal. “It was clarified (by the CBI) that the desperately wanted criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi has been making all possible attempts to derail ongoing extradition proceedings in Antigua and Barbuda, to evade the process of law in India. However, based on mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises, a five-member CCF chamber has taken a decision on the deletion of Red Notice, communicated in November 2022,” the CBI said.

The statement said the CBI has taken up with CCF the serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate, and mistakes committed by CCF in the manner of reaching this unfounded and perfunctory decision. “The CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within INTERPOL for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of Red Notice,” it said.

The CCF has subsequently clarified to the CBI that its decision “in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Choksi” for crimes he remains charged in India, the agency said. The CCF has reiterated that “it has not established factual certainties and there is no factual finding in their decision that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi will not have a fair trial”.

The CBI had pointed out that even Antigua authorities consider there is sufficient evidence to substantiate that Choksi concealed material facts or made false representation when he applied for his Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, a fact which reflects on previous conduct of this criminal, it said. Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised, the agency said.

Choksi had fled from India in the first week of January 2018, days before Rs.13,000 crore was detected in the PNB. At the request of the CBI and Enforcement Directorate, Interpol included his name in the list of most wanted fugitives called Red Notice in December 2018.

“Facing possibilities of imminent extradition from Antigua and Barbuda, wanted criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi again with a view to create diversions from the ongoing process and derail the ongoing extradition proceedings, with false claims, concocted dramatic stories and imaginary narratives approached various international forums and also approached CCF in July 2022 to revise its earlier decision of 2020 rejecting his claims,” the agency said.

Choksi had disappeared from his sanctuary in Antigua and Barbuda in May 2021 to mysteriously appear in neighbouring Dominica where he was detained for illegal entry. The CBI mobilized its team to bring him back from Dominica, but swift legal moves by Choksi’s lawyers ensured he was sent back to Antigua and Barbuda and all charges of illegal entry were dropped. His lawyers had alleged that he was abducted from Antigua and Barbuda. PGurus in June 2021, reported in detail about the abduction of Mehul Choksi by honey trapping.[1]


[1] Meet Barbara Jarabik, who picked up Mehul Choksi along with three Indian-origin-UK-settled bouncers. Barbara knew Choksi and Nirav Modi for many yearsJun 11, 2021, PGurus.com

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