Vijay Mallya did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday for questioning in an alleged money laundering case, the third time he has failed to abide by the summons from the investigators . The liquor baron has asked for time till May.
Senior ED officials said they are now mulling stern action as Mallya has exhausted the number of summons he can skip - a maximum of three - under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Officials privy to the investigation refused to divulge further details, but sources said the ED’s options include seeking an arrest warrant against Mallya and revoking his passport.
“We are yet to decide what action is to be taken, considering this development. We may come to a decision by Monday. We are scouting all options we have under the PMLA,” a senior ED officer said, requesting anonymity.
The ED’s third and final summons to Mallya was on April 2, when the agency asked him to appear on Saturday. Mallya earlier asked for more time from the ED — he was first asked to appear on March 18, and then on April 2. After the second summons, he offered to repay more than half of the Rs7,000 crore his now defunct airline owes creditors. The move signalled that the pressure from banks and the money-laundering probe against him may be working.
Officials said Mallya’s questioning is crucial to investigate the money trail. Of the Rs900 crore loan Mallya took from IDBI bank, ED officials found Rs300 crore was routed to the United Kingdom, and the remaining Rs600 was sent to other parts of the country. Officials are yet to ascertain where the money was used in the UK .
Mallya left the country on March 2, with unpaid bank loans of about Rs7,200 crore, and tweeted from an unknown location later saying he was not on the run and would abide by the law. His departure came days before a consortium of 17 banks, led by the State bank of India , approached the Supreme Court to restrain him from leaving India.
The ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to trace the alleged diversion of loans he took from several banks.