ED summons Vijay Mallya, quizzes former employees on money laundering angle
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued summons for appearance to liquor baron Vijay Mallya and questioned some former Kingfisher airlines executives while his “fleeing” from India triggered an uproar in parliament. However, the flamboyant tycoon insisted that he had not fled the country.
The Vijay Mallya escape issue rocked Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive day with the opposition and treasury benches exchanging heated arguments over the case. The ED has summoned Mallya to appear before the agency next Friday (March 18) for questioning in the ongoing probe into a money-laundering case, officials said in Mumbai.
The development comes after the ED registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and a day after it summoned former top officials of the airlines and the IDBI to whom it owes around Rs.900 crore.
Earlier the ED quizzed the airlines’ ex-chief financial officer A. Raghunathan to shed light on its various financial transactions and related matters. Besides Raghunathan, the ED has also summoned former IDBI chairman-cum-managing director Yogesh Aggarwal and other senior executives of the airline and the bank for questioning on the advances made to KFA and other connected aspects. However, it was not immediately clear when Mallya — who is currently abroad — will return to India and respond to the ED summons but he stressed he was not an absconder.
A consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India wants Mallya arrested for not repaying about Rs.9,000 crore he had borrowed. The Supreme Court gave Mallya two weeks to respond and fixed the next hearing on March 30.
Outside, parliament, the Congress alleged that Mallya was tipped off to leave the country through a “secret understanding” between him and the government. “Facts now suggest that Mallya was actually tipped off to leave the country in order to escape recovery of over Rs.9,000 crore of loan by a consortium of banks,” party leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala, Rajeev Gowda and Ranjit Ranjan said in a statement here. “If government has a secret understanding or is handling the issue through back channels, it owes a duty to place the same in public domain,” they said.
Lastly, Adding to Mallya’s woes now is that government too has decided to act tough against willful loan defaulters. This stern message to Mallya was given by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI governor Raghuram Rajan at a joint press conference after a meeting of the SEBI Board.