The abduction case of Mehul Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda has still been under investigation since May 2021. Despite a prolonged investigation by the agencies over the last two years, there’s nothing conclusive that proves his claims of abduction and being forcibly taken from one country to another.
The fugitive, who is on the run after defrauding India’s renowned Punjab National Bank (PNB) of over $2 Billion, is now manipulating the authorities with his baseless claims of abduction. So far, Choksi and his legal representatives haven’t been able to present any documentary evidence or any physical evidence like the CCTV footage or any eyewitness. The claims are being looked at as desperate attempts to avoid or delay the process of being extradited to India.
Meanwhile, his fabricated portrayal of himself as a victim of human rights violation has presented him with a withdrawal of a red corner notice against him.
Amidst the investigative chaos, the highly ranked officials of the government have expressed concerns over the drainage of national resources over the Mehul Choksi case, calling for an immediate end to the investigation that hasn’t produced any results, as the case continues to grow perplexing with baseless narratives.
In a bid to contrive the local narrative in Choksi’s case and garner the public support, the legal representatives of Mehul Choksi have been funding numerous media outlets and journalists, not just in Antigua and Barbuda, but the highly renowned outlets in the United Kingdom, Europe as well as the United States to strengthen his false narrative with the help of paid news published in his favour.
This hasn’t gone well with the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, who’ve been exasperated with Choksi’s attempts to gain public traction with these positive image-building campaigns run by the sold-out media outlets.
At the same time, it is believed that the taxpayers’ money he had defrauded from the PNB Scam is now being channelled into media manipulation purposes, which has further added to the rage of the general public.
Moving forward with the case, the arrest of Barbara Jarabik in Dubai is the latest development that the investigating agencies have come up with. The action came after Interpol had issued a Red Corner Notice, which is indicative of international collaboration to crack down on those allegedly involved in Choksi’s disappearance.
However, the dismissal of the case against Jarabik came in as something really unexpected, with UAE Court citing the lack of evidence to prove her involvement in the kidnapping allegations. At the same time, a Dubai-based Lawyer has also reiterated the lack of evidence which can prove the claims of Mehul Choksi. The unexpected series of events that took place with
Jarabik’s acquittal by UAE Court has further darkened the shadow of doubt over Choksi’s claims.
On similar grounds of lack of evidence, Interpol also withdrew the Red Corner Notice against Barbara Jarabik. This has landed the legitimacy of Choksi’s claims into the arena of doubts, which is something that his legal team didn’t want.
Fabrication in Police Reports
As per Choksi’s claims, his abduction involved certain tourists as well, but the police report paying the least heed to their records, which remained confined to the itinerary of the tourists and their hotel visits and meeting with the individuals that were deemed irrelevant. These records, however, serve as evidence of their presence in the territory and not of any wrongdoing or involvement in the abduction activity.
Meanwhile, the alleged kidnapping of Mehul Choksi can be attributed to two theories, of which the first claims to be kidnapping for ransom, but no contact was ever made with his family for the ransom amount, which rules out this theory.
Another theory claims the abduction to be a state-led operation by the Government of India. But the timeline of the operation establishes that the plane sent to retrieve Choksi landed in Dominica after six days of his disappearance.
With this, none of these theories appears to be the likely cause of the alleged abduction.
The case of Mehul Choksi was investigated by Tarique Ghaffur CBE QPM, a former Assistant Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Service, within the scope of which he revealed that tourists accused of abduction, namely Barbara Jarabik, Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Bhandal, who according to him, were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, his investigation eliminated the accusations made against these tourists.
WHAT KENNETH RIJOCK’s INVESTIGATION SAYS
Kenneth Rijock, a renowned financial crime consultant with experience of working in anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing, also independently investigated the Mehul Choksi matter, deploying his expertise to prepare a detailed report on the case for the assistance of the governments. The report, containing six detailed chapters, is based on Rijock’s analysis of Choksi’s conflicting statements, involvement of accomplices and other facts of Mehul Choksi’s disappearance case.
– Mehul Choksi’s Statements:
According to Mehul Choksi, he was abducted on May 23, 2021, when he was out to meet his friend Barbara Jarabik at her residence in Antigua by 8-10 individuals, which according to him, appeared to be police officials of Antigua.
After that, he was transported by boat where two Indians were already present( Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Bhandal), who made him talk to an Indian official, who stated that Choksi would be repatriated to India. However, in his statement, Choksi said that he was handed over to police in Dominica.
-The Accused Tourists:
The Indian Tourists, Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Bhandal, who were named by Mehul Choksi, stated that they were totally unaware of Mehul Choksi until their names were highlighted in the news reports. According to them, they visited the Caribbean to sail around and hired a boat from Antigua to Dominica and have the appropriate documentary evidence of their arrival in Antigua as well as the immigration check from Antigua to Dominica.
Moreover, their boat underwent Customs and Immigration department inspection, which instated the presence of five persons on the boat, including three crew members and two guests, which is also confirmed by documentary evidence.
In addition to this, Barbara Jarabik stated that she knew Mehul Choksi, with a changed name as Raj, and never knew who he really was. According to Jarabik, she was approached by Choksi, who was interested in her. However, she has denied any kind of involvement in the disappearance case.
-The Jamaican Transporters:
A leaked document from Police Department revealed that Choksi met two Jamaican nationals in April 2021, who agreed to transport him on May 24, 2021 for money. However, as Barbara Jarabik changed her plan to leave Antigua on May 23, 2021 instead of May 24, Choksi insisted the Jamaican transporters to arrive on May 23, 2021 only.
Notably, he was staging his abduction from Barbara’s house with her knowledge to join the Jamaican transporters on their boat to Cuba. But, he received a call and asked the transporters to drop him in Dominica and notify the Dominica Police.
The primary investigation by Antigua and Barbuda police supported Mehul Choksi’s version of the kidnapping, naming Barbara Jarabik, Gurjit Bhandal and Gurmit Bhandal as persons of interest.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne later revealed that there was no evidence that proved Choksi’s version of kidnapping and forceful abduction.
Findings of Kenenth Rijock- Contradictions in version OF Mehul Choksi
1: Changes in statements by Mehul Choksi about his May 23, 2021, evening plan.
2: Change in statements about kidnappers’ identity.
3: There were no signs of intrusion or forced entry into the house, where Mehul Choksi pretends to have been kidnapped.
4: His accusations of Gurmit and Gurjit Bhandal taking him on a boat have been eliminated by documentary evidence of immigration to Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the statements of Captain of the boat, do not support Choksi’s claims.
5: Another question is why Barbara Jarabik would even plan his abduction from her own residence, and that too at the busiest time of the day at 5 PM.
6: Botched up investigation by police officials, who deliberately overlooked vital evidence and witnesses of the case.
7: The change in plan from May 24, 2021, to May 23, 2021, in line with Barbara’s changed plan to depart on May 23 instead of May 24, 2021.