Mehul Choksi, an economic offender involved in the biggest Indian banking scam of Rs 7,080 crore, now wants to "expand business" in a country where Chinese and Syrian nationals are settling down in large numbers. Choksi's new residence is Antigua and Barbuda.

According to foreign media reports, Choksi got Antiguan citizenship last year to expand his business as the passport of the Caribbean nation provides visa-free travel to 132 countries.

According to the official report of the Antigua and Barbuda government, the small island is a new place of choice for Chinese nationals, who provide the maximum number of citizenship applications. Also, the Chinese have been the beneficiaries of more than 51% of all the citizenship granted by Antigua and Barbuda government, which is a record. 

The official data mentions that a total of 28 Indian nationals have also approached the Antigua and Barbuda government for citizenship. Fifty Syrian and 49 Russian nationals are also known to have applied for the citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda.

"I can, however, state that I lawfully applied to be registered as a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda under the citizenship-by-investment programme. During the course of my application I did all that was lawfully required of me to do. My application for citizenship was in due course approved," The Daily Observer quoted Choksi's lawyer as saying. 

Now, it will be tough for the Indian government to build pressure on the Antigua and Barbuda government for Choksi's extradition as there is no treaty to that effect between the two governments. The Antigua and Barbuda government, however, stated that they will make all efforts "as per law" to honour a "legitimate" request from India.

The request of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to issue a Red Corner Notice against Choksi has been pending with the Interpol. It is, however, likely to be granted in a couple of weeks.

Choksi and his companies allegedly availed of credit from Indian banks’ overseas branches using the fraudulent letters of understanding and letters of credit. A charge sheet in the case was filed in a special court in Mumbai after a three-and-a-month probe alleged that Gokulnath Shetty, a deputy manager in Punjab National Bank and arrested by the CBI, received Rs 1 crore from the companies of Choksi to issue LoUs to his companies.