PNB scam: Mehul Choksi sends video message from Antigua, says ‘all allegations by ED false and baseless’

: A video of absconding jeweller Mehul Choksi from Antigua has appeared in which he is heard saying that the allegations levelled against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the USD 2 billion PNB money laundering case, are baseless.

Choksi, the maternal uncle of Nirav Modi, took the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda last year and oath of allegiance to that country on January 15 this year after completing the nationality process.

In the video, captured by news Agency ANI, Choksi further said that the suspension of his passport has been questioned by him but the regional passport authorities are yet to respond to it. All questions by ANI to Choksi were asked by his lawyer in Antigua.

“The passport authorities revoked my passport altogether in view of which I was immobilize. On February 16, I received an email from the passport office which said that my passport has been suspended due to reasons of security threat to India. On February 20, I sent an email to the regional passport office, Mumbai, requesting them to revoke the suspension of my passport. However, I did not receive any reply from the regional passport office,” he said in the video.

The scam pertains to the alleged issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertaking of more than USD 2 billion to companies of Nirav Modi and Choksi by Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch during 2011-17, officials said.

An LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks with branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant.

Nirav Modi and his companies allegedly availed credit from the overseas branches of Indian banks using the fraudulent PNB guarantees given through LoUs and letters of credit issued by the Brady House branch which were not repaid, bringing the liability on the state-run bank.

Both Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have refused to join investigation in spite of repeated summons by the agencies to appear for questioning.

Choksi has cited threat to his life, health condition, media bias, and poor jail conditions in his appeal before the Interpol to stall issuance of Red Corner Notice against him.

The issue will now be put before an internal five-member committee of the Interpol which will hear the plea of Choksi and arguments of Indian agencies in October before deciding the issue.

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