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Pirates of the Caribbean: the real Mehul Choksi story isn’t about honeytraps and spies, but the world’s greatest safe haven for crime

Eastern Caribbean states have provided a safe haven for criminals since the time of the pirate forts of the 1700s. The Mehul Choksi case is an opportunity for India to lead an international effort to end this.

June 14, 2021 / 07:24 PM IST
Mehul Choksi's  lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat

Mehul Choksi's lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat

The negotiations, German intelligence officers listening in to the call learned, hadn’t been exactly business-like. “He gave me my watch back,” London businessman Hardip ‘Peter’ Virdee said, describing a meeting with Antigua’s energy minister, “and he said to me, ‘Could you buy my mum a car?’ I said, ‘I will think about it.’ Then on my next visit, he said, ‘You promised my mum a car.’ I said, ‘I have no problem in buying you a car, no problem, but I can’t be giving you chunks of the money that you are not entitled to beforehand and give money to the Party and then go and buy you a car.”

As the conversation wore on, Virdee exploded. “What do you mean, ‘I need 2 million?’,” proceedings in the England and Wales High Court show he told the minister. “I said, ‘you can’t just f***ing take 2 million. You can’t just say ‘I need 2 million because I did a lot of gravy’.”

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For days now, Indians have been struggling to piece together the bizarre story surrounding fugitive diamond magnate Mehul Choski. The elements of the plot, we know: on the evening of May 23, someone kidnapped Choksi from an apartment where he’d gone to meet a friend, Barbara Jarabica. He was locked in the hold of a St Lucia-registered yacht, the Calliope of Arne, and landed in Dominica on May 25—where the police were waiting to arrest him. Passenger manifests show Gurjit Bhandal, a resident of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and Gurmit Singh, an Indian national.