Mallya skips ED again; seeks time till May

New Delhi (PTI): Beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya will not be presenting himself before ED investigators for the third time today as he sought time till May to depose before it in connection with a money laundering probe in the over Rs 900 crore IDBI loan fraud case.

Officials said Mallya has informed the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case in Mumbai that he will be unable to depose personally as scheduled today citing the ongoing legal proceedings going in the Supreme Court over settlement of loans.

However, it is understood that the liquor baron has suggested his legal team can help ED in taking the probe forward.

Sources did not immediately comment as to what next step the agency will take now as he has sought time till May, a request he made to the IO last week too and which was turned down.

“The next action will be decided in due course,” they said. 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 citing official reasons.

Officials had, however, earlier said that the agency has by and large two options in case an accused skips appearance on summons thrice, the maximum time allowed under PMLA.The options include revoking his or her passport and/or getting issued a non-bailable warrant.

ED officials had earlier hinted that the April 9 summons could possibly be the last to Mallya.The IO of the case had allowed his plea to postpone his appearance till now, they said, both on technical and legal grounds.

It is understood that Mallya, while seeking extensions, had informed the IO that cases related to bank loans were currently sub-judice 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 was first summoned by the agency to “appear in person” at its office in Mumbai on March 18 but he sought more time citing his prior engagements, following which the agency asked him to depose on April 2.

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 Supreme Court to disclose all assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad by April 21.

The Supreme Court also sought to know when he will appear before the apex court. The directions by the apex court came after a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India “unanimously rejected” his proposal to pay Rs 4,000 crore by September towards settlement of his loans.

The bench agreed with the consortium that Mallya’s presence was necessary in the country to show his bona fides that he was serious about settling his dues. He is reported to be in the UK after he left India on March 2.

The ED has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI. The agency is also investigating financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and looking into any payment of kickbacks to secure loans.

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