New Delhi, July 27: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday filed a charge-sheet against diamond jeweller Mehul Choksi naming him the “mastermind” of the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud.
The charge-sheet was filed in Mumbai court. It stated, “Mehul Choksi is the “mastermind” behind the behemoth scam.
According to the charge-sheet, Choksi designed the entire scheme of scam and the movement of the money under the garb of import and export.”
“These companies had directors/partners who acted as dummies while ultimate decision making was only with Choksi”.
“Some of these companies used for receiving proceeds of crime and also for laying, siphoning and parking of funds”, the ED added.
Meanwhile, Choksi claimed that he had taken Antigua citizenship last year to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries, as per the local Antigua media.
In a statement issued to a Caribbean newspaper ‘Antigua Observer’, the jeweller through his attorney David Dorsett said: “I can say categorically, that there is no truth in those allegations”.
On or about July 24, the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) issued a press statement in response to an online story from an Indian media outlet reporting on certain allegations made against Choksi by the Indian authorities and the media.
According to this CIU statement on Wednesday, Choksi was granted citizenship by registration in November 2017 and he swore the Oath of Allegiance in Antigua on January 15, 2018.
The CIU also said that Choksi’s application was granted “after robust due diligence and international investigation by reputable agencies, including the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS)”.
Choksi had reportedly fled the country in January, nearly a fortnight before weeks before country’s biggest banking fraud unearthed.
For those unversed, the PNB had detected the multi-crore scam this year in February, wherein Nirav and business-partner Mehul Choksi had allegedly defrauded the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the lender.