Mehul Choksi, the fugitive jeweller wanted by Indian investigators, has alleged that he was kidnapped and beaten by men who claimed to be Antiguan police, in a police complaint filed by his lawyers in Dominica, where he is jailed. He has also named the mystery woman he claims trapped him and helped in the “kidnapping” – Barbara Jabarica.
Choksi also claims he was told that he was kidnapped and brought to Dominica to give an interview to a “high-ranking Indian politician”.
“They told me my citizenship would be fixed in Dominica and soon I would be repatriated to India,” he adds in a five-page complaint.
Choksi says he had known Barbara Jabarica for the past year but suspects she was involved in his abduction because she “did not try to help”.
Jabarica originally lived across the street from his home in Jolly Harbour town in Antigua but later shifted to CoCo Bay Hotel, he says.
“She was friendly with my staff. I used to go for walks with her. On May 23, 2021 she requested me to pick her up from her house. When I reached at her residence at 5.15 pm she invited me in and indicated that she wanted to finish her wine,” the businessman says in his complaint.
He alleges that he was kidnapped by eight to 10 “heavily muscled” men, who initially claimed they were from the Antiguan police. The men overpowered him and kept beating him and tasered him on his face, hands and exposed skin, causing burns, Choksi claims. He also alleges that they took his cell phone, Rolex watch and wallet.
The woman didn’t help when he was being beaten up, says Choksi.
“During this entire ordeal, Ms Jabarica did not even attempt to help me or assist in any way by calling for help from outside. In fact the manner in which she conducted herself by not helping me and her subsequent lack of initiative in contacting the police clearly shows that she was an integral part of this entire scheme to kidnap me,” the complaint says.
Choksi also says he was shifted from a small boat to a bigger boat, and where he met “Indian agents”.
“I could see two Indians on board and three persons of Caribbean descent. The Indian men seemed highly experienced mercenaries or contractors hired specially for this purpose. They told me they had been watching me for over a year. Another man asked me about my finances and off-shore accounts. They warned me of dire consequences if I did not cooperate,” he states, adding that he was made to speak to one Narinder Singh, who claimed to be in charge of the case.
“He also said to leave my friendship with Ms Jabarica out of picture as it would lead to a public scandal and hurt my wife,” he says.
Choksi had been reported missing by his family on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been staying since 2018. He was caught in the neighbouring island country, Dominica, and detained after what the media reported as a romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.
But the businessman filed a kidnapping complaint with the Antiguan police on June 2.
Antiguan PM Gaston Browne said today if the claims were true, it was a serious matter. “Choksi has filed a complaint with the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda to the extent that he was abducted. He made a formal claim through his attorneys that he was abducted from Antigua and taken to Dominica so it is a report that police is taking seriously and they are currently investigating the abduction,” Mr Browne said.
Choksi has also approached Dominica’s court for bail. Earlier, the court had denied him bail citing the severity of the case and him being a flight risk. The next hearing is listed for Tuesday in Dominica.
Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi fled India in the first week of 2018, weeks before the Rs 13,500 crore scam in Punjab National Bank (PNB) rocked the Indian banking industry. The two allegedly bribed the officials of the state-run bank to get Letters of Undertaking (LoU) on the basis of which they availed huge loans from overseas banks, which remained unpaid.