In a massive setback for the Indian fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, wanted in India in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, the Dominican government declared him as a "prohibited immigrant" in their country.
An order issued by the Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs on May 25 said, "in accordance to section 5(1)(f) of the Immigration and Passport Act Chapter 18:01 of the 2017 Revised laws of the Commonwealth of Dominica, you, Mehul Chinubhai Choksi, are hereby declared a prohibited immigrant."
"I further direct that the necessary action be taken to have the said prohibited immigrant removed from the Commonwealth of Dominica in keeping with the procedure laid out in the said Act," added the order, signed by Dominican minister Rayburn Blackmoore.
Meanehile, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit termed Choksi as an "Indian citizen" and stated that the courts will decide what happens to the fugitive, Antigua News Room reported on Wednesday.
According to the Caribbean news outlet, Skerrit also added that the government will protect the rights of Choksi as he awaits trial.
Currently, Choksi has got interim relief from immediate repatriation to India by the Dominican court, which adjourned the matter of his detention.
Choksi had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda sparking a massive manhunt. He was reportedly captured in Dominica on May 26.
Earlier, Choksi had appeared before a local magistrate in Dominica and pleaded not guilty of entering Dominica illegally.
However, Choksi's lawyers had alleged that he was abducted from Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian, and brought to Dominica on a boat forcibly.
The latest development is a setback for Choksi as it counters the abduction theory.
The diamantaire is wanted in India by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in Rs 13,500 crore case. He had taken the citizenship of Antigua in 2017 and left India on January 4, 2018 days before the case came to light.