As drama over fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi continues over the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case, Choksi has named a mystery woman, Barbara Jabarica, who he claims trapped him and helped in his subsequent abduction.
Dominican Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said on Tuesday, “the matter with this Indian citizen is before the courts, the courts will decide what happens to this gentleman and we allow the court process to go through,” news agency ANI reported.
To add to the twist and turns, Choksi has also claimed that he was kidnapped and brought to Dominica to give an interview to a "high-ranking Indian politician."
On 23 May, Mehul Choksi had gone missing from Antigua, where he had been living since 2018. This sparked a massive manhunt and Choksi was eventually captured in Dominica on 26 May.
Much like businessmen Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, who have so far evaded India’s attempts to repatriate them, Choksi, too, has managed to avoid being brought back to the country.
Here’s how the case has unfolded so far:
WHO IS THE MYSTERY WOMAN?
In Choksi’s complaint to the Antiguan Police, he stated that “Over the past year, I have been on friendly terms with Barbara Jabarica. On 23 May, she asked me to pick her up at her house. When I went there, 8-10 men appeared from all the entrances and beat me mercilessly (sic),” ANI reported.
He added that the men took his phone, watch, and wallet but returned his money.
Choksi said in his complaint, “when I was being beaten up, Jabarica didn’t even attempt to help me or assist in any other way by calling for help from outside – the manner in which Jabarica conducted herself clearly points that she was an integral part of this entire scheme to kidnap me,” ANI reported.
INDIAN POLITICIAN AND AGENTS INVOLVED?
Choksi added in his five-page complaint that he was told he was kidnapped and brought to Dominica to give an interview to a "high-ranking Indian politician."
He added, “They told me my citizenship would be fixed in Dominica and soon I would be repatriated to India.”
Choksi also claims to have met “Indian agents,” when he was shifted from a small to a bigger boat.
Stating that he was made to speak to one Narinder Singh, who claimed to be in charge of the case, Choksi was quoted as saying, “I could see two Indians on board and three persons of Caribbean descent. The Indian men seemed highly experienced mercenaries or contractors hired specially for this purpose. They told me they had been watching me for over a year. Another man asked me about my finances and off-shore accounts. They warned me of dire consequences if I did not cooperate,” NDTV reported.
Choksi was also told to leave his friendship with Jabarica out of the picture as it would lead to a public scandal and hurt his wife.
CHOKSI FACES TRIAL OVER ‘ILLEGAL ENTRY’ INTO DOMINICA
Choksi is currently facing trial in Dominica for allegedly entering the country illegally from Antigua, where he had been living after fleeing India over the Rs 13,500-crore PNB fraud case.
Even though Choksi’s lawyers had claimed on 2 June that he was abducted on a vessel since he pleaded not guilty to illegal entry at his court appearance, he was denied bail. The Dominican High Court adjourned the hearing in the matter to 14 June.
Antiguan PM Gaston Browne said on Monday if the claims were true, it was a serious matter. "Choksi has filed a complaint with the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda to the extent that he was abducted. He made a formal claim through his attorneys that he was abducted from Antigua and taken to Dominica so it is a report that police is taking seriously and they are currently investigating the abduction," Browne said.
INDIAN AGENCIES RETURN EMPTY-HANDED
An eight-member team of officers that went to Dominica with the purpose of bringing Choksi back returned to India empty-handed on 3 June.
This came after the Dominica High Court adjourned the hearing in his case to 14 June. The team of Indian officials had landed in Dominica on 29 May, with a set of documents relating to Choksi’s case, IANS reported. The officers reportedly left in a private Qatar jet from Dominica on Thursday.
(With inputs from ANI, IANS, and NDTV)