Mumbai/New Delhi: Vijay Mallya was today summoned to appear before the ED on March 18 even as the beleaguered businessman asserted he is not an absconder amid an escalating political row over how he was able to go abroad unhindered with NDA ally Shiv Sena also targeting the government
As the BJP and Congress traded charges, the controversial departure of Mallya, 60, in the middle of a massive loan default probe rocked Rajya Sabha for the second day with Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asking the government why did the CBI amend its ‘lookout’ notice against the liquor baron within a month last year.
Taking forward its money laundering probe in the alleged default in payment of Rs 900 crore dues to IDBI bank by the now defunct Kingfisher airlines, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) issued summons to Mallya for appearance in Mumbai on a day when A Raghunathan, a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the carrier, appeared before at investigators at its Mumbai office.
“The summons have been issued to Mallya under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in connection with the IDBI case,” official sources said. The sources said Mallya has also been asked to furnish documents related to his personal finances.
“We had summoned Raghunathan and he appeared before us for questioning this morning. “His questioning is important to throw light on various financial transactions, as many of them are in his personal domain,” an ED official said.
With his departure from India on March 2 kicking up a row, Mallya, who is facing legal proceedings for alleged loan defaults by his group to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore, said he 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, who is believed to be in the UK, tweeted from an undisclosed location.
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.”
Hitting out at the government over Mallya’s departure, Shiv Sena said those who raised hue and cry over Lalit Modi “fleeing” the country should now answer how did the liquor baron leave. The BJP had targeted the UPA government when the former IPL boss, who was facing an ED probe on various charges including money laundering, left India in 2010.
“Since he has given services to many, some allowed him to take loans, while others let the money drown. Then there are some who let him leave the country. People who were making a hue and cry over Lalit Modi leaving the country should now answer how did he(Mallya) do so,” the Sena said.
Keeping up the offensive on the Mallya issue, Congress’ chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala alleged that the businessman was “made to run away” with active abetment of government agencies.
Defending the government, BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma accused Congress of “misleading” the country with its “baseless” allegations and asked it to come clean on bailout package given to him during the UPA rule.