Diamantaire Mehul Choksi, accused in the ₹14,000-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, was in the news last week for having disappeared from Antigua and Barbuda. He was subsequently spotted and arrested in Dominica, as he allegedly tried to flee to Cuba in a boat.
India has now sent a private flight loaded with documents to bring back the fugitive for a trial here.
The Bombardier Global 5000 jet that has been booked is part of Qatar Airways’ fleet, and obviously comes with a hefty price tag. A Moneycontrol report has estimated the cost of the flight at ₹2.7 crore to ₹2.86 crore, at the rate of ₹8.46 lakh per hour of flying for charters. The jet has already been sent to fetch Choksi.
Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said that diamantaire Mehul Choksi might have taken his girlfriend on a romantic trip to Dominica and got caught: Antigua News Room
(File photo) pic.twitter.com/3TsJOB97iD
— ANI (@ANI) May 30, 2021
By air, India to Antigua, a Caribbean country, is about 17 hours. So, while a one-way charter would cost ₹1.35 crore to ₹1.43 crore, a round trip would be up to ₹2.86 crore, said the report, adding that GST will add to the cost.
This apart, the agency that is hiring the jet needs to pay $7,000 to each country over which the aircraft flies, said the Moneycontrol report. Additionally, there are payments involved for a fuel stop in Madrid, and a daily halting charges of about ₹1 lakh, it added.
The 62-year-old Choksi, who holds an Antiguan citizenship, is the owner of the Mumbai-based Gitanjali Group, a jewellery firm with retail outlets across India. He, along with his nephews Nirav Modi and Neeshal Deepak Modi, has been charged with cheating Punjab National Bank of ₹14,000 crore — an allegation that he denies.
So far, six PNB staff and at least six employees of Choksi and Modi’s companies have been arrested in connection with the fraud.
— Business Standard (@bsindia) May 30, 2021
Choksi’s attempt last week to flee is expected to make the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) attempts to extradite him to India stronger.
However, Choksi’s lawyer reportedly claimed he had been ‘kidnapped’. He was then beaten up and taken to Dominica in a ship, where he was arrested, the lawyer said, pointing to photographs of his client’s black eyes and swollen face as evidence.