The infamous mama-bhanja duo of Mehul Chokshi and Nirav Modi is desperately trying its best to avoid investigation, interrogation and prosecution, under the Indian law. Both these fugitive diamond merchants are guilty of cheating Punjab National Bank of Rs.13400 crores, through fraudulent and unauthorised issuance of letters of undertaking. They are facing charges of cheating, fraud, forgery, money laundering, hawala, benami assets, tax evasion and FEMA violation and every investigation agency is on their case, right from the CBI to ED to SFIO to the ITD. Both have escaped from India in a planned manner, with the mama ie. Pappoo, as he is popularly called in local trade circles running away to Antigua in the Carribean and Nirav Modi scooting away to the UK, both hoping to avoid punishment for their serious crimes. With India now determined to get them back, both of them are facing the heat and are battling to avoid extradition to India.
At the moment, Nirav Modi is in the docks, with retribution staring in his face. This flashy and cocky cheat was tracked by a British journalist freely walking on the streets of London and is presently lodged in a British jail, having lost his plea for a bail, the fourth time, despite agreeing to deposit a surety amount of a million pounds. The UK courts agree that he may threaten witnesses and can tamper evidence, if he is released, even though he is willing to be under house arrest, with an electronic tag to monitor and restrict his movements. His extradition proceedings are likely to begin soon and since he is accused of serious crimes of fraud and cheating, he could be sent packing to India very soon.
The extradition case of Pappoo who is presently safely parked himself in Antigua, is much different. He obviously refuses to return to India, claiming that there is a threat to his life and that due to blocked arteries, he is medically unfit to travel to India. He says that there is no direct flight from Antigua to India and that he is not medically fit to take long multiple flights. In a false show of cooperation he says that he is willing to participate in court proceedings through video conferencing and is also willing to be investigated and interrogated by the ED in Antigua. Mehul Chokshi expectedly proclaims that he is innocent, that he is not the real culprit since there is not a shred of evidence against him and even accuses the Indian authorities of deliberately not investigating the real culprits of the fraud. The ED has offered to bring him to India by an air ambulance and accompanied by medical experts, which he has refused to accept. If he was perhaps offered another opportunity to loot banks in India and run away, he would gladly return to India on his own, cured of his blocked arteries. While authorities like the ITD and the ED have seized the assets of these two fugitives, that they left behind when they ran away, they are yet to be interrogated and prosecuted for their crimes in India. Interestingly, Mr. Gaston Browne the Antigua PM says that Mehul Chokshi will be extradited to India after all his legal options are exhausted. That perhaps means that his coming to India will be delayed, being mired in legal proceedings in Antigua.
This criminal duo of Mehul Chokshi and Nirav Modi need to be brought back, not just to be punished for their crimes, but also for various other reasons, so as to further cleanse the Indian system. Such huge crimes that were perpetrated for years, cannot happen without a godfather in the system, both banking and political. We need to question these fugitives to find out these top men in the bureaucracy and banks and the neta, under whose protection and patronage, such a giant crime was blatantly committed by these fraudsters. They are as guilty as these two are, or perhaps more. We also need to identify all those others who colluded with the bankers, such as auditors, valuers etc. since they too have participated in the crime. The government also needs to understand as to how were such huge funds siphoned away and where are they parked, in order to seize those assets to recover these huge lost public funds. And finally their interrogation is a must in order to unearth all the evidence that can help to punish the entire bunch of delinquents in a court in India.