Enforcement Directorate (ED) is mulling “appropriate” action against liqour baron Vijay Mallya, including getting his passport revoked, after he failed to appear before it despite being summoned thrice in connection with a money laundering probe in the over Rs. 900 crore IDBI loan fraud case.
Officials said an “appropriate” action will be taken to take the probe forward in the case. It is understood that the central probe agency may either move a competent court in Mumbai to get a non-bailable warrant issued against him or write to the passport authority under the Ministry of External Affairs to get his international travel authority document revoked.
ED’s zonal office in Mumbai, they said, is preparing legal papers to take the next step in the wake of Mallya skipping the third summons that required him to “personally” join investigations on April 9. Mallya had last week informed the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case in Mumbai that he will be unable to depose personally citing the ongoing legal proceedings going on in the Supreme Court over settlement of loans.
He, however, had suggested his legal team could help ED in taking the probe forward. The agency had issued fresh summons last week to Mallya asking him to appear on April 9 after he sought two extensions from the earlier dates of March 18 and April 2. Officials had earlier said the agency has by and large two options in case an accused skips appearance on summons thrice, the maximum time allowed under the scheme of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The options include getting passport revoked and/or getting issued a non-bailable warrant. The IO of the case had allowed Mallya’s plea to postpone his appearance till now, they said, by considering both technical and legal grounds cited by him for his absence. It is understood that Mallya, while seeking extensions, had informed the IO that cases related to bank loans were currently in the Supreme Court and he was trying to settle these loans with the help of his legal and corporate team and, hence, would require some more time.
Mallya, who is facing legal proceedings for alleged default of loans worth over Rs. 9,000 crore from various banks, was also directed by the apex court to disclose all assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad by April 21. He is reported to be in the UK after he left India on March 2. ED has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI.