CBI in touch with Interpol after red corner notice against Mehul Choksi removed

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Public TV English
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NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday said that it remains in active communication with Commission for Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) and other bodies in INTERPOL after it removed the Red Corner Notice against Mehul Choksi.

The Red Corner Notice removal indicates Mehul Choksi is no longer wanted by INTERPOL. The removal of the Red Corner Notice by the global police body against Choksi will have no bearing on the Punjab National Bank scam case, which is already in an advanced stage.

Notably, Red Corner Notices are issued against fugitives and is considered as a request to law enforcement agencies across the world to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. The 63-year-old diamantaire is wanted in India in connection with a Rs 13,000-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The CBI, in its statement, said that it remains committed to returning fugitives and criminals to India to face the process of criminal justice. “Systematic steps have been initiated in close coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies for geo-locating and return of wanted criminals and economic offenders. In the last 15 months, over 30 wanted criminals have returned to India”, it read.

The CBI said that a case was registered against Mehul Choksi and others on February 15, 2018, for defrauding Punjab National Bank. “The CBI has already filed two chargesheets in the case against wanted criminal Mehul Choksi and others under Sections 120-B r/w 409, 420, 477A, 201 of IPC and Section 7 and 13(2) r/w 13(1)(c)&(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988”, the release stated.

Subsequently, in 2022, CBI registered five more criminal cases against Mehul Choksi and others for defrauding banks and financial institutions. The CBI, as the national central bureau for INTERPOL, had issued a diffusion to locate absconding criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi in February 2018. The movements of the criminal were tracked by CBI in close direct coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and he was geo-located to Antigua and Barbuda.

Extradition request against Mehul Chinubhai Choksi was sent through diplomatic channels to competent authorities of Antigua and Barbuda in August 2018, the release stated. In 2018, wanted criminal Mehul Chinubhai Choksi approached the Commission for Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) making a request for the non-publication of a Red Notice.

“The CCF is a separate body within INTERPOL that is not under the control of INTERPOL Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries. CCF had studied his request and consulted CBI. The CCF dismissed representation of Mehul Chinubhai Choksi and INTERPOL published a Red Notice,” CBI stated.

The agency said that INTERPOL had only published a Red Corner Notice against Mehul Chinubhai Choksi in December 2018 at the request of CBI and ED. “This was subsequent to the geo-location by the CBI of a wanted criminal and subsequent to the initiation of the extradition request. The purpose of a Red Corner Notice issued by INTERPOL is to seek the location of a wanted person and to seek their detention, arrest or restriction of movement for purpose of extradition, surrender, or similar action”.

“In 2019, Mehul Choksi again approached Commission for Control of INTERPOL’s Files (CCF) seeking removal of Red Corner Notice from INTERPOL’s website. The CCF had studied his request, consulted CBI, and based on inputs, again in 2020, dismissed his plea,” it read.

“The CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within INTERPOL for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of the Red Notice. The CBI has pointed out that even Antigua authorities consider there is sufficient evidence to substantiate that the applicant concealed material facts or made false representation when he applied for his Antigua and Barbuda citizenship, a fact which reflects on the previous conduct of this criminal”, it read.

The CCF subsequently clarified to CBI that its decision in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Mehul Chinubhai Choksi for crimes he remains charged within India. The CCF reiterated that it has not established factual certainties and there is no factual finding in its decision that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi will not have a fair trial. Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, the CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised.

“It may be noted that an INTERPOL Red Notice is neither a prerequisite nor a requirement for extradition proceedings. The Global Operations Centre of CBI continues to closely monitor the movements of wanted criminals like Mehul Chinubhai Choksi in close direct coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and not reliant only on INTERPOL channels. Extradition request made by India is under active consideration before authorities in Antigua and Barbuda and remains fully unimpacted by Red notice-related communications with INTERPOL,” it read. (ANI)

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