Mehul Choksi case: Lawyer reveals new evidence proving 'abduction' was pre-planned

PTI
PTI

London - Choksi, who is wanted in India in RS 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23.



By IANS

Published: Mon 14 Jun 2021, 5:57 PM

Ahead of the hearing of Indian fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi's bail plea in Dominica, his lawyer contended on Monday that two new evidences have come to light to show that his "abduction" was pre-planned - alleged "decoy" Barbara Jarabik had asked an AirbnB agent whether the property she was inquiring was booked by a UK travel agency, and video evidence shows the arrival and departure in Jolly Harbour of the boat upon which the bound and gagged diamantaire was taken out to sea to be transferred to the larger ship for the "unlawful journey" to Dominica.

Michael Polak, part of the legal team representing Choksi and an expert in providing legal assistance to foreign nationals around the world, said that while "terrible ordeal" for the diamantaire, and "this attack on the rule of law", took place on May 23, the "planning for what was to happen to Choksi occurred much earlier".

"In April 2021 what may have been a reconnaissance trip or failed kidnap attempt took place,"" Polak said, adding that four individuals travelled to the Caribbean from London in April and one of these was Jarabik, the person who Choksi accuses of luring him to the spot where he was attacked and kidnapped in May.

He alleged that in April, Jarabik flew with one of the men, from London to Antigua and then on to Dominica.

"During this period,and coinciding with the exact point when Jarabik and the man she travelled with were in Dominica, two men attempted to enter Dominica by boat but were barred as being suspected of people trafficking. These men were the same men, who Choksi says kidnapped him on the day after he had been offloaded to the Dominican Police," he claimed.

"The April trip may have been adress rehearsal for the May kidnapping because exactly what happened on that occasion, including Jarabik and her handler leaving Dominica by private jet, took place on May 23 when Choksi was kidnapped."

Choksi, who is wanted in India in RS 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case went missing from Antigua and Barbuda on May 23, sparking a massive manhunt. He was captured in Dominica on May 26, and faces charges of illegal entry.

Polak further said that on May 8, in what seems to have been in preparation for the kidnapping, Choksi says that an Airbnb villa was rented by Jarabik and that this was the place to which he was lured and kidnapped from. He said that Jarabik in her Airbnb messages in regard to renting Jolly Harbour North Villa F on May 8 asked about being able to dock a small boat at the property."It should be noted that she told the host they might take both Villas F and the apartment next door, and then subsequently Villa E was booked by Skylord Travel Ltd, a UK-based travel agency with offices in London and Birmingham," Polak said.

"It is not suggested that this company was involved in the kidnapping," he, however, added.

"Subsequently, this is confirmed by Jarabik when she states in a message that the agent from London booked Villa E. It is likely that the men who booked Villa E, through the travel agent, were part of the group who attacked and kidnapped Choksi," the lawyer said.

Citing the statement of Choksi that he was kidnapped from the residence of Jarabik on May 23 and taken on a boat forcibly, Polak also shared the two videos of a boat, saying: "As can be seen, this boat was unmarked, carried no flag or name, and was moving much faster than the speed limit in the area of 5mph."

He further said that sources state that the Calliope of Arne was spotted in Jolly Harbour on the afternoon of May 23 having cleared customs to leave Antigua just after 10 a.m. and therefore should have left Antiguan waters at that time but was seen going back and forth just outside Jolly Harbour.

Targeting Jarabik, the lawyer said that at 7.26 p.m. just after the time when the kidnapping took place, she travelled from Antigua to Dominica by private jet with the same man with whom she had made the practice trip in April.

"Two men entered Antigua on the boat the Calliope of Arne on May 25 after Choksi had been renditioned to the Dominican authorities from this boat. These men were the same two who had undertaken the same boat trip during the practice run in April," he alleged.

Polak has also filed a complaint filed with the Metropolitan Police on June 7, alleging that Choksi was allegedly lured by Jarabik and then attacked and taken by force by several men to Dominica in a boat. The complaint has also claimed that Jarabik and three men allegedly involved in the incident - St Kitts and Nevis national Gurdip Bath, Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Singh Bhandal - are all residents of the UK.

IANS was first to report report names of Singh and Bhandal on June 4.

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.


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