Politics

Vijay Mallya Breaks Silence, CBI Defends Revised Lookout Notice

Vijay Mallya is at an advantageous position to negotiate with the Centre in the money-laundering and wilful-default case.

Vijay Mallya has broken his silence. Credit: PTI

Vijay Mallya has broken his silence. Credit: PTI

Beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya has broken his silence since fleeing India on March 2. In a series of tweets from an undisclosed location, Mallya said he is not an absconder and will comply with the law of the land.

Mallya is a Rajya Sabha MP, having been elected in 2010 to represent Karnataka, with support from the BJP and JD(S).

Believed to be at his country home in Hertfordshire in England, Mallya also sought to shift the blame to the media, tweeting, “Once a media witch hunt starts it escalates into a raging fire where truth and facts are burnt to ashes.”

Mallya also questioned news reports that 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 left the country on March 2, even as banks approached the courts to seek orders restraining him from going abroad.

Facing increasing heat over allowing Mallya to leave India, it has been learnt the CBI had changed the nature of lookout notice against him from seeking his detention while leaving the country to that of merely providing information about his travel plans. This information adds to questions being asked of the CBI, which has been accused of going soft on Mallya in the probe on the default on the repayment of a 900 crore rupees loan taken from IDBI bank.

In its October 16, 2015 request to issue a lookout circular, the CBI had said Mallya should be detained at the exit point if he tries to leave the country. However, in November, the agency issued a revised circular asking the Bureau of Immigration to inform it of his departure and travel plans. The CBI was informed every time Mallya travelled abroad since, including on March 2.

The CBI has defended its decision to revise its notice on the grounds that Mallya had cooperated with their investigations and had always returned to India from his travels abroad.

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is now questioning the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines’ Chief Financial Officer A Ragunathan on how part of the IDBI bank loan was taken out of the country. If the ED were to arrest Raghunathan, it will be another instance of a promoter escaping and his executives becoming scapegoats.

Like former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi, Mallya may now refuse to come back to India. Indian investigators will have to collect sufficient evidence to seek his extradition from the UK, which is known to not cooperate unless convinced of the evidence collected.