Browne’s references to extradition of investor confirm REAL News’ report about Chinese fraudster

Another Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) passport holder
allegedly has found himself in legal problems with China, which is seeking his
However, Prime Minister Gaston Browne says that extraditing him will not be
easy – as the Mehul Choksi case has proven.

According to Browne, China is claiming the man was responsible for the
failure of a bank that collapsed after it lost US$350 million in assets.
Browne says the man became a CIP citizen about six years ago; but he alleges
that he became aware of the accusations against the Chinese man only after
the fact.

Even if this person is guilty of an offence in China, the prime minister says, it is
not clear whether Antigua and Barbuda has an extradition treaty with that
There has to be due process, he says, and everyone is presumed innocent until
proven guilty. Therefore, it is not in the purview of the Cabinet to make any
determination on whether this Chinese national should be extradited.

On April 3, REAL News broke a story that a CIP citizen was wanted in China
for defrauding a bank there of US$359 million, of which US$250 million was
spirited abroad – leading to questions about Antigua and Barbuda’s due-
diligence process.

This man – for whom an Interpol Red Notice was issued and updated in
February 2022 – is alleged to be an investor in one of the Browne
Administration’s Special Economic Zones.

Regarding the Interpol notice, Browne says that, to his knowledge, the alleged
fugitive visits Antigua and Barbuda on a monthly basis.

But Browne appears to be discrediting the international alert. He says the
Chinese man would have had to travel through the United Kingdom to get
here, and that would have been an opportunity for Interpol to hold him.
However, a recent article published by Newsweek points out that the man –
along with at least one other questionable investor – traveled here by private
Browne says the man apparently lives in Dubai and visits often, but does not
reside here.  

Interestingly, almost immediately after the REAL News story broke, residents
of Jolly Harbour – where the Asian man and his armed bodyguards had been
conspicuous – confirmed to our Newsroom that the suspected fugitive and his
entourage had “disappeared” from the premises.

Meanwhile, referring to the Choksi case, Browne says his administration has
learned that a person cannot be repatriated to his country of birth while he is
a citizen of another country without first having an extradition order and then
going through a legal process.

Such a person is entitled to all the protections that a national is afforded by
law and under the Constitution, he acknowledges.

Sources say they find it hard to believe that Browne was unaware of the
allegations against the Special Economic Zone investor, especially because of
where the man resided while on island.

They also note that one of the man’s investment partners was publicly
disgraced as a fraud in the British press, and it is almost impossible that
neither the prime minister nor the foreign affairs minister was aware of the
scandal surrounding him.

Further, given the Administration’s recent announcement about a CIP
development at Willoughby Bay, the sources say that all investors coming
through Dubai, in particular, need to be vetted carefully.

“These ministers don’t seem to be able to distinguish between a legitimate
businessman and a con artist,” one observer says.