CBI to Interpol: Restore Red Notice against Mehul Choksi

The CBI has asked an Interpol body to restore the Red Notice against fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, saying its decision to drop his name from the list was based on mere “imaginary conjunctures and unproven surmises” and had serious shortcomings and mistakes.
Red Notice is the highest level of alert by the 195-member strong International Police cooperation organisation Interpol to locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
In a statement on Tuesday, the CBI said the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) removed Choksi’s name from the Red Notice list in November 2022. The removal of the notice means Choksi can freely travel out of Antigua and Barbuda where he is holed up after fleeing from India in 2018.
The statement was issued by the CBI a day after the media reported the CCF decision that came as a setback to Indian investigating agencies and triggered a huge political uproar.
Based on repeated appeals from Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,000 crore bank fraud in Punjab National Bank, the CCF removed his name from the Red Notice list in November 2022, it said.
The statement said the CBI has taken up with CCF the serious shortcomings, procedural violations, overreach of mandate and mistakes committed by CCF in the manner of reaching this unfounded and perfunctory decision.
Based on new information and serious errors in the decision, the CBI is taking steps for the decision of CCF to be revised, the agency said.
“The CBI continues to exercise available remedial and appellate options within INTERPOL for rectification of this faulty decision and for restoration of Red Notice.”
The CCF has subsequently clarified to the CBI that its decision “in no manner has any determination on any guilt or innocence of Choksi” for crimes he remains charged in India, the agency added.
The CCF which had removed Choksi’s name from the list of fugitives based on his appeal last year is a separate Interpol body which is “not under the control” of the Interpol Secretariat and is mainly staffed by elected lawyers from different countries where people can challenge decisions to declare them fugitives, the CBI statement said.
Choksi had fled from India in the first week of January 2018, days before the Rs 13,000 crore fraud in the PNB was detected. At the request of the CBI and the ED, Interpol included his name in the list of most wanted fugitives called Red Notice in December 2018.
“It may be noted that Mehul Chinubhai Choksi was already located prior to the publication of the Interpol Red Notice and steps were also initiated for his extradition. Although the primary purpose of Red Notice was already achieved, the same was retained as a precautionary measure,” the CBI said.

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