's [Antigua and Barbuda], August 29 (ANI): The Antigua and Barbuda government reaffirmed its commitment that it would fully cooperate regarding the arrest of fugitive diamantaire and Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam accused Mehul Choksi, but added that it would not succumb to pressure from the Indian government in the matter.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on OBSERVER Radio that the authorities would arrest Choksi only in conformity with the laws and regulations of the country, Antigua News Room reported.
He said, "This idea that they (India) can force us to take any decision and go against the laws and constitution of our country and one in which they are trying to force the executive to meddle in the domain of the judiciary that is something that will not be tolerated."
Browne asserted that the Antigua and Barbuda government has already "signalled its full cooperation" in the matter and that "the authorities remain fully committed to assisting wherever possible".
He continued, "(This issue) is a matter for courts and I believe the Honourable Attorney General (Steadroy "Cutie" Benjamin) made it abundantly clear that the matter is now in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecution."
"We are a country of laws and we have to respect the constitutional rights of our citizens," Browne further said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through the Ministry of External Affairs, had written a letter to the Antigua and Barbuda government asking them to arrest Choksi. On August 9, the Antiguan authorities had assured to cooperate with India for the extradition of the fugitive diamantaire.
The multi-crore scam was detected by the PNB officials earlier this year, after Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had allegedly cheated the bank to the tune of two billion dollars, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.
India has been trying hard to bring back Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda under the provision of a law of the island nation, which provides for extradition of a fugitive to a designated Commonwealth country. (ANI)