Mehul Choksi the Indian fugitive who ran away with billions of dollars is claiming of an abduction. The stories, and the plot has no leg to stand when tested with facts.
Uncover of corruption in Police and Administration in Antigua and Barbuda has upsurged turmoil not only in the country but expanded to the broader region, which is raising serious concerns about the conduct of the policing in the country.
The saga of billionaire fugitive Mehul Choksi tangled everyone’s thoughts after revelations of high-scale bribery in the country exposed by internationally renowned financial crime investigator Kenneth Rijock. The discovery of pieces of evidence provoked the police commissioner to release an official statement denouncing all the allegations, but however, the statement lacked factual disclosures.
According to Kenneth Rijock who is in possession of a police report prepared and signed by Antigua and Barbuda Royal Police Force Inspector Adonis Henry true to the best of his knowledge and shall be liable to prosecution if wilfully states anything which is false to be true. The allegations labelled by Rijock seem to be on point as Inspector Henry left many loopholes while preparing an untidy report of Mehul Choksi’s alleged kidnapping and mismatches many facts which were uttered by Choksi himself. The report seems to be influenced to benefit the infamous Indian fugitive to get an illegal entry case in Dominica dismissed. Below are the major findings of Rijock of the fictional police report prepared by Insp. Henry.
- Mehul Choksi in his official statement had said that he went to the apartment, which is situated in the North Finger area of Jolly Harbour, where he was allegedly abducted. But at the same time, the police report states that Cpl Williams (The Duty SPO at Johnsons Point Police Station) conducted a search in the area and there was no vehicle. A thorough search lasting close to two hours was done, including inspections of entry and exit of the areas. But on the next day, follow-up officer Mr Muhamad reported that the car of Mehul Choksi had been located in the North Finger area outside of villa 407 E&F of Jolly Harbour. It is written in the report that the car was located in the area which was previously checked by Cpl Williams a few hours earlier, which means the car was planted afterwards. Theoretically, how can someone park a car as alleged abductors have already left the Antigua shores. The car was parked by someone belonging to Mehul Choksi and the same person or persons fabricated evidence by displacing the apartment where Choksi alleges the kidnapping took place. The place was made to look alike a place where the possible struggle took place and planted all substantial evidence to make it look like a place of crime.
Choksi is well-known for his masterplans and is named a man of the art in terms of fraud, which makes this more apparent that he was well prepared to escape his extradition. Substantially, the police report which was dictated by Mehul Choksi lacks credibility and clearly resembles a set of dramatic tv series.
- Choksi alleged two tourists of abduction who later said they were in Antigua for sailing purposes. According to the official statement of Customs and Immigration of Antigua and Barbuda, both of the sailors left Antigua at 10:30 morning on the same day when Choksi went missing. Notably, he was still present at his house till 05:00 PM of the same day as per Choksi’s statements and was seen in many CCTV footages in the country. The timings of these completely mismatch the assumptions of Choksi and surprisingly, the police did not care to question any Customs or Immigration officer in this regard, which is the big question on the investigation report submitted by Insp. Henry.
Again both of the sailors reached the shores of Dominica about 13 hours before Choksi was found and arrested on the beach of Dominica. According to statements, they both disembarked around 10 AM, where Customs and Immigration of Dominica thoroughly inspected their boat. Officially, it is reported that there were 5 persons on board the ship named Calliope of Arne, 2 were tourists and 3 ship crew members. Again surprisingly, investigating officer Insp. Henry did not communicate with the officials of Customs and Immigration in Dominica.
- In a bid to integrate region against any odds, CARICOM was formed and which represents small island countries in the region. There are a number of efficient units constituted under CARICOM, includingThe Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC), The Regional Intelligence Fusion Centre (RIFC), Regional Crime and Security Strategy Central Coordinating Unit (RCSS-CCU) and others to ensure the safety and security of the region. The police officer during the investigation did not involve any regional support to investigate the involvement of the ship named Calliope of Arne, nor he conducted forensics of the vessel to put solid evidence in the report.
- Rigorous consultations took place after Choksi was in contact with his team of lawyers and it was uttered by his lawyer that it did not escape rather it was the abduction of their client, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne spoke on the matter and announced on 22 June 2021 in the national parliament that after consultations with Commissioner of Police that there is no evidence of kidnapping in Antigua and Barbuda. As the money talks, later, a police report which was submitted to the Dominica court of justice was created with fabricated evidence to get the illegal entry case against Mehul Choksi dismissed, which would eventually support the pressure to halt the extradition of Choksi to India, according to revelations of Rijock.
- Initially, when Choksi was in Dominica, he said that there were about 8 persons of the Royal Police of Antigua and Barbuda who grappled him and kidnapped him. But ,later when he got a grip over police officials in Antigua with hefty bribes, the statement was directly changed that the people who abducted him were Indian agents. The kidnapping was blamed on tourists travelling in or through Antigua and Barbuda.
- It was found suspicious that the investigating officer did mention about the Joanna Lucas vessel, which might have been used by the fugitive diamond merchant, but did not conduct an investigation into it. According to the statement of David Giroux a yacht owner who observed suspicious yacht with mean looking characters onboard. As per the sources, the name of the yacht was revealed by Colin Thomas, a yacht owner who had seen the suspicious vessel before on the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia. Why investigating officer did not question the owner of yacht. The investigating officer also did not trace the location of the yacht through mobile tower tracking of the vessel’s captain. This also brings major conjecture on the conduct of police officer.
Financial Crime Investigator Kenneth Rijock revealed in his findings that Mehul Choksi was not abducted but it was a very well-planned scheme to escape extradition to India. He engaged a vessel with the crew to transport him to a safe house set up in Cuba. During his journey, he failed to make payments to the smuggling vessel, due to which he was left at the beach of Dominica. After realizing that his escape plan went wrong, Choksi immediately created another master plan to evade detention and entrapped travellers into his story.
To get away with his illegal entry case in Dominica, Mehul Choksi put in a lot of effort, and Kenneth Rijock unveiled his plan after thorough investigations. Well-known investigator, Rijock works closely with American agencies to shed light on such cases and brings out the truth to the public. Previously, the American investigator succeeded in catching money launderers and fugitives, making them face the tune of law.
It is to be mentioned that Mehul Choksi’s lawyer based in India stresses that his client (Mehul Choksi) was already safe in Antigua and Barbuda, indicating that he didn’t require to escape to any other country. However, the same man felt unsafe with his own wife and was hanging around with another female for over eight months under her nose. The fact that Barbara Jarabik was just a victim in Choksi’s master plan.
Report by former Assistant Commissioner of Met
A former Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service prepared a report on Mehul Choksi, his alleged disappearance and 5 accused individuals. He reviewed the cold case and interviewed all five individuals under the accusations. As per the report, the statements of all accused matched with each other. Ghaffur described their claim as “valid” in his report.
As per Ghaffur, all five accused were able to justify their itineraries and their whereabouts at the time of the incident. Mehul Choksi’s version of events, however, collapsed under the weight of Tariq Ghaffur’s scrutiny of the facts.
Tariq Ghaffur’s report was able to clear the accusations made by Indian fugitive. In his report, just like in many others, it was mentioned that Mehul Choksi was not kidnapped in fact, all 5 accused were at the wrong place on wrong time.
A confidential report in the public domain
Police Commissioner Atlee Patrick Rodney must answer how a confidential report slipped from the Royal Police of Antigua and Barbuda. Kenneth Rijock retrieved the report, which was supposed to be a “confidential piece of information”. If a report can get out of the police jurisdiction, then it is clear how easily all other facts can be manipulated with little or even no influence within the system. There is a possibility, that Mehul Choksi also accessed this report and planned accordingly. It is a very unprofessional conduct of police in this sensitive case that highly confidential investigation report is out in the public.
Statements of accused sailors who sailed from Antigua to Dominica
Two Britishers who have been accused of the alleged abduction of Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi, dismissed the claims in their media statement. During an interview with Jonathan Gilbert- Correspondent of Indian media house Times Now, the two reportedly made new revelations. The duo said their presence in the Caribbean was misused by Mehul Choksi’s lawyers and they had no connections in his disappearance whatsoever.
In 2021, the interviewer Jonathan Gilbert also agreed that both Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and said they are innocent men. They accepted being on the Calliope of Arne Yacht and stated they hired the boat way before his alleged disappearance.
They said that both often go to the Mediterranean Sea for sailing but decided to do it in the Caribbean this time.
“We hired the boat online, and never met the yacht captain before,” said British sailor.
They added that the Yacht was booked for 19 May 2021 but they boarded on the morning of 20 May 2021.
Sharing more details, stated that they left Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, 2021, at 10 am to enjoy their sailing time. They said they had no idea about who Mehul Choksi is until their names were slashed in the media, in relation to the allegations.
They said it is not strange for foreigners to sail around the different Caribbean islands, and added that it is done by thousands of tourists. They said even some organizations carry out special sailing races in the region, and participants come from around the world.”
On the question about travelling with certain people, one of the accused told Gilbert that there are normally three flights daily but due to COVID-19 airlines reduced it to only 1 flight in a week, which makes it common that a person can come across similar people during travelling. However, flight schedules are now resumed to normal functioning.
Many media houses reported that Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Singh were denied to enter Dominica in April 2021, but as per both, back then the rules were different due to COVID-19 restrictions. Bhandal said authorities asked for a mandatory quarantine, which is why they voluntarily left, and were not denied entry. In May 2021 however, the rules changed and only PCR test was required for entry which is why they were allowed to enter. They said they reached Dominica on the same day they left Antigua and cleared customs on May 23, 2021.
Mehul Choksi’s female friend speaks to media
Barbara Jarabik was also interviewed by a number of media outlets in this respect in June 2021, when she cleared the air about Mehul Choksi’s lies as he presented himself to Barbara under the fictitious name ‘Raj’. Unexpectedly, she did not deny link with Choksi and told that she know him personally but not by the name of “Mehul Choksi”.
In addition, Barbara told that Choksi invited him to breakfast in the morning, and Choksi began to ask really strange questions over the two hours of their meal. She further stated that on May 23, 2021, she was at the Jolly Harbour area and proceeded to the airport later since she had a flight to catch at around 7 p.m. Barbara specifically stated that ‘Raj’ (Choksi) was already aware of her travel plans.
Calliope of Arne captain clarifies claims
Mehul Choksi’s kidnapping and transportation to Dominica on the Calliope of Arne Yacht have been falsely reported on social media, however the boat’s captain, Captain Fernandes Fertinant, confirmed to Associates Times that there were only five persons on board, including three staff members.
Fertinant claimed to have extensive expertise offering charter services to people who have been travelling to different Caribbean islands for the past 20 years.
On May 23, Fertinant stated that his two clients had intended to travel to Dominica from Antigua and Barbuda ending their journey at St Lucia. He further disclosed to newsgroup that the clients he was employed by were two guys between the ages of 50 and 65 and one person who had trouble walking.
According to information provided by Fertinant, the yacht was rented on May 19 for a week, and on May 23, after clearing customs in Antigua and Barbuda, they departed for Dominica at around 10 in the morning. He added that the yacht arrived in Portsmouth, Dominica, at midnight on the same day (May 23, 2021), but that because of the late hour, they had to wait until the following day to clear customs.
“We continued to cruise for four days, the second visitor became seasick, and when we arrived in Dominica, they were forced to abandon their intentions to travel to St. Lucia and instead chose to stay in Dominica. After that, my crew and I sailed back to St. Lucia,” Fertinant said.
He added that these clients were new to him and that he had never managed a yacht for them before. The older man was limping from one leg, so the guys appeared to be too frail and old to attempt a crime like kidnapping.
There were no women on board, according to the boat’s captain, and everyone on board—including the crew—was all men.
Who is Mehul Choksi
Fugitive diamantaire and the owner of Gitanjali Group Mehul Choksi is infamous for the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam. He was accused of defrauding the bank of more than 14,000 crores. Mehul Choksi, along with his Nephew Nirav Modi masterminded the scam. The siphoning of funds only came to light after eight years after he started defrauding PNB.
The Choksi’s Gitanjali Gems initiated a series of transactions at PNB from 2011 onwards, and around 165 Letters of Understanding (LoU) were fraudulently issued to Choksi’s companies.
Punjab National Bank was not the only victim of Chokis’s payment defaults as they defaulted on repayments for loans availed from Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) ICICI Bank and IDBI Bank as well. Choksi’s jewellery business was also found to violate several rules of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
The scam is known as the biggest scam in the banking history of India. Choksi fled the country in January 2018 to Antigua and Barbuda after the scam was uncovered. He is wanted by the Indian authorities, such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Investigating agencies have registered several cases against him and have attached several thousand crores worth of properties till now. Government authorities are trying to get him extradited to India.