Mehul Choksi claims innocence in video message

St. John’s [Antigua and Barbuda], Sep 12: Calling himself a “soft target in a small country”, fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi on Tuesday said that he was undergoing media trial in connection with the alleged USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam.

Choksi said in a video statement, “I am under media trial. Until last December, there was no bad name and mine was one of the leading companies in India. If I was such a bad man as they are portraying then why were all the media running after me for business? Also, when they call me fugitive, scamster or fraudster – it hurts me very badly. They should at least mention the word ‘alleged’. I have just realised that I have to give answers to many of the questions only because I am a soft target in a smaller country. If you look at it without verifying – has any company in the world or India in particular been closed down within a span of one week?”

The owner of Gitanjali Group of Companies added, “My company is 50 years old. Over 6,000 people are employed in my companies, directly or indirectly and it has never happened in India that a firm has been shut down in a day based on a wrong complaint. This is some kind of terror I have gone through due to all this after recovering from my health issues. In future, no company should be dealt with the way I was.”

Choksi has also held PNB responsible for misinforming the probe agencies, adding that it was unprecedented how his company came to a complete standstill without thorough investigation. He further claimed that in response to a letter written by his company, the PNB had said that they would like to sit down and resolve the matter.

Earlier in the day, the businessman had said that all allegations levelled against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were “false and baseless.”

In response to questions sent by media, Choksi said, “All the allegations levelled by the ED are false and baseless. They have attached my properties illegally without there being any basis of the same.”

The questions were asked by Choksi’s lawyer in Antigua.

Prime accused in the over USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank scam along with his nephew Nirav Modi, Choksi is currently in Antigua.

His statement comes at a time when the Indian government is trying to extradite Choksi to India under the diplomatic provisions.