The Mumbai Police on Saturday said a probe had been ordered into the issuance of police verification report to fugitive jeweller and Punjab National Bank scam accused Mehul Choksi.
The Mumbai Police had earlier said Mehul Choksi was given a “clear report” last year as no criminal antecedents were found against him.
The claims made by Antigua and Barbuda that Choksi was granted citizenship based on a police clearance certificate (PCC) issued by the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Mumbai, created furore in India.
Clarifying its stand on the crucial matter, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said on Friday the police clearance certificate was issued to Choksi “by Passport Office, Mumbai, for Antigua and Barbuda on March 16, 2017… on the basis of a clear police verification report available on his passport”.
Choksi, now a prime accused in the alleged Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, obtained passport under the ‘Tatkal’ category after the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai granted him “No Police Verification Required” status in 2015.
Choksi is one of the alleged masterminds of the USD 2 billion scam in state-run Punjab National Bank and is the uncle of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi.
The Mumbai Police issued a statement on Saturday clarifying its stand on the issuance of police clearance last year. They said Choksi had applied for a police clearance certificate (PCC) to RPO, Mumbai, on February 23, 2017. Officials at the Malabar Hill Police Station, under whose limits he lived, submitted “a clear report” on March 10, 2017, stating that no criminal antecedents were found. It was then forwarded to RPO, Mumbai, according to the statement.
The ‘Clear Report’ was given after checking the online Criminal Antecedents and Information System (CAIS), it said.
“If a person has been arrested in the past, it is reflected in the CAIS,” the release said.
Choksi left the country on January 1 this year, and an offence was registered against him by the CBI on January 31 (in the PNB scam), it noted.
“Now, the city police are also examining their “internal processes involved in the criminal antecedents verification process to improve the existing system,” the release added.
A newspaper report from Antigua has said Indian authorities did not give any adverse report to stall Choksi’s citizenship application in that country last year.
Choksi’s application for citizenship in Antigua in May 2017 was accompanied with clearance from the local police as required by norms, Antiguan newspaper The Daily Observer reported.