Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned businessman Vijay Mallya in a money laundering case relating to IDBI loan fraud. Sources reveal that Mallya has been summoned to appear before the investigators in Mumbai on March 18.
The summons were issued on a day when A Raghunathan, a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, was questioned by ED investigators. ED is probing a money laundering case where it is alleged that Mallya defaulted a payment of Rs 900 crore dues to IDBI bank.
ED’s summons comes at a time when Mallya is being accused of fleeing the country after facing legal proceedings for bank loan defaults worth Rs 9,000 crore. After days of criticism, Mallya has broken his silence on the matter and has said he is not an absconder and will comply with the law of the land.
“I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish,” Mallya tweeted early on Friday morning.
He further said: “As an Indian MP I fully respect and will comply with the law of the land. Our judicial system is sound and respected. But no trial by media.”
Mallya lashed out at the media for branding him an absconder.
“Once a media witch hunt starts it escalates into a raging fire where truth and facts are burnt to ashes. Let media bosses not forget help, favours, accommodation that I have provided over several years which are documented. Now lies to gain TRP?” said Mallya in a series of tweets.
Mallya also questioned news reports that said he must declare his assets.
“Does that mean that Banks did not know my assets or look at my Parliamentary disclosures?,” he added.
The 60-year-old liquor baron, who is facing legal proceedings for alleged loan defaults of Rs 9,000 crore by his group, left the country on March 2. A consortium of 17 banks including State Bank of India have approached the courts to seek orders to restrain him from going abroad. But Mallya left before the banks approached the court.
While he remained silent on his whereabouts, reports said the UB Group chairman and Rajya Sabha member is believed to be in his country home in an English village about an hour’s drive north of London.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition raised the matter for the second day on Friday.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government as to why the CBI amended its ‘lookout’ notice against Mallya within a month last year.
The government was quick to hit back. Taking potshots at the Congress, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the NDA government will not give any concession to Mallya like the Congress-led regime did to Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors case.
On Thursday, Opposition leaders including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi have raised questions about how he was allowed to leave the country despite a ‘lookout’ notice by CBI.
On Wednesday, the government told the Supreme Court that Mallya had left India on March 2 after which the bench issued a notice to him and sought his response within two weeks on pleas filed by a consortium of banks seeking direction for freezing his passport and his presence before the apex court.
(With reports from PTI)