New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said that the Centre is "steadfast" in its resolve to bring back fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500 Punjab National Bank (PNB) fruad case.

Speaking at a press conference, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that all efforts are on to bring Choksi, who fled to Dominica last month, back to India.

"He (Choksi) is currently in the custody of Dominica where some legal proceedings are underway. We will continue to ensure that he is brought back to India," he said.

Choksi had gone missing last month after dinner at a restaurant in Antigua and Barbuda. Later, he was found in Dominica and was charged with illegal entry by the local government.

Choksi, who was given citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018, has also been denied bail by a Dominican court after the judge said that he must answer the illegal entry charges into Dominica in Magistrates court.

'Antigua prefers repatriation of Choksi from Dominica to India directly'

The Antigua and Barbuda and Cabinet has decided that Choksi should be repatriated from Dominica to India directly, said a local media report. According to the report, Prime Minister Gaston Browne chaired a Cabinet meeting where his government decided that it will continue to gather intelligence in the circumstances of Choksi's "departure" from Antigua.

"The preference of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda is for Choksi to be repatriated to India from Dominica," the Cabinet minutes said.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January, 2018 weeks before Rs 13,500 crore scam in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) rocked the Indian banking industry.

The duo allegedly bribed the officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking on the basis of which they availed loans from overseas banks which remained unpaid.

The allegedly corrupt officials did not enter these LoUs in the core banking software of the PNB thus evading any scrutiny.

The non-payment of these LoUs or bank guarantees worth Rs 13,500 crore resulted in default and became a liability on the bank.

Modi escaped to Europe and was finally held in London where he is contesting his extradition to India while Choksi took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 where he had been staying since his escape from Delhi.

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma