NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday claimed that Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua, which granted citizenship to fugitive Indian economic offender Mehul Choksi, has "indicted" the BJP government for "protecting" those who defrauded India and demanded the Modi dispensation respond to the "indictment".
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Antigua PM has told the media that Indian officials have to take responsibility for giving clearance to Choksi, a proclaimed offender when he sought the citizenship of Antigua, after defrauding Indian banks to the tune of hundreds of crores.
"I think, the Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne has squarely indicted the BJP government for protecting those who have committed fraud and theft of public money, people like Mehul Choksi. He (Browne) said and I quote 'we got flawed information. The Indian officials have to take responsibility for that situation'," Surjewala told reporters here.
"It clearly shows that somebody very high up in the present government was trying to protect 'Hamare Mehul Bhai' (our Mehul brother), as this government has put it repeatedly.
"A person who had defrauded the banks and run away with thousands of crores, the time has come now that the government responds to the square indictment by the Antiguan Prime Minister," Surjewala said.
Browne was asked by the media about the extradition of Mehul Choksi, who is now a citizen of Antigua.
Choksi is a "crook" and will be repatriated to India after he exhausts all legal options, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, insisting the deportation is "just a matter of time".
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI for allegedly defrauding the Punjab National Bank (PNB) to the tune of Rs 13,400 crore.
Browne said Antigua and Barbuda has an independent judiciary and the matter is before the court.
"I can assure you that he will be ultimately deported after exhausting all his appeals. He will be extradited back to India to face whatever charges against him. It is just a matter of time," he told DD News.
"He is allegedly a crook. If we would have known that he is a crook, he could not have gotten the Antiguan citizenship," he said on the 60-year-old jeweller's deportation.
"He brings no value to Antigua and Barbuda."
The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly's annual session.