The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said on Tuesday that the Interpol’s decision to delete Red Corner Notice (RCN) against wanted fugitive businessman Mehul Chinubhai Choksi was “based on mere imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises”. The agency has sought restoration of the RCN against Choksi since it believed that the decision of Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) has “serious shortcomings, procedural violations, over reach of mandate and mistakes”. The Interpol communicated it’s verdict in favour of Choksi, facing extradition proceedings in Antigua and Barbuda, to the CBI last November.
The CCF, which is an independent body authorised to ensure that personal data is processed as per the organisation’s rules, is not under the control of Interpol Secretariat, and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries. The “CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within INTERPOL for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of Red Notice. 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 previous conduct of this criminal,” CBI spokesperson said in detailed response to Choksi getting off the RCN list.
The CBI spokesperson also told media that the CCF has subsequently clarified to them that its decision in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Mehul Chinubhai Choksi for crimes he remains charged in India. “CCF has reiterated that it has not established factual certainties and there is no factual finding in their decision that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi will not have fair trial,” he pointed out. Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, CBI stated it is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised.
The CBI charged that Choksi has been making false claims, churning concocted dramatic stories and imaginary narratives before various international forums and also approached CCF in July, 2022, to revise its earlier decision of 2020 to retain RCN against him. He is accused of using these tricks to avoid imminent extradition from Antigua and Barbuda. The wanted businessman has done that in the past, too, as per the CBI, which has so far filed two chargesheets in six cases registered against him so far from 2018 for defrauding banks and financial institutions.
The Interpol had published an RCN against Choksi in December, 2018 on request of the CBI and the ED. This was subsequent to geo-location by CBI of the wanted criminal and subsequent to initiation of extradition request, the spokesperson pointed out. In 2019, Choksi, however, approached CCF seeking removal of RCN from Interpol’website but it dismissed the request in 2020 based on CBI’s inputs that counterred his pleas.
Prior to that Choksi had made similar attempts in 2018 to take his name off the Interpol’s RCN list after approaching the CCF, but could not succeed.
It may be noted, stressed the CBI, that an Interpol RCN is neither a pre requisite nor a requirement for extradition proceedings. The Global Operations Centre of CBI continues to closely monitor movements of wanted criminals like Mehul Chinubhai Choksi in close direct coordination with foreign law enforcement agencies and not reliant only on Interpol channels, the agency stated. 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.