Trouble mounts for defiant Mallya, ED seeks revocation of his passport
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sought the revocation of beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya's passport in connection with Rs 900 crore IDBI loan fraud case. The latest development comes days after Mallya failed to appear before the ED investigators despite being summoned thrice in connection the case.
Officials said the agency has written to the Ministry of External Affairs to take action under the Passport Act, 1967 and ask the Regional Passport Office (RPO) here to revoke the diplomatic passport of the beleaguered businessman as he has turned out to be "un-cooperative" with its investigators probing a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) at its zonal office in Mumbai.
Last week, the agency had issued fresh summons – the third so far – to Mallya asking him to appear before it on April 9. This was after the former Kingfisher director sought two extensions from the earlier dates of March 18 and April 2 citing certain official reasons.
“We gave him a chance to cooperate in the investigation, but Mallya chose to disregard the summons,” an ED official said.
Mallya fled to London last month as pressure mounted on him to repay bank loans amounting to Rs 9000 crore.
The agency, sources said, while making the request has also informed that despite cooperating with Mallya thrice by way of providing him fresh dates for personal appearance, the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case has only met with "non cooperation" which is leading to a delay in taking the probe forward.
Under the Passport Act, when a person is issued a diplomatic passport, their regular international travel document gets deposited and when a revocation is sought for the former is sought, the latter too gets cancelled. They said once the ED request is okayed, the MEA will inform UK authorities about the same and seek for his deportation to India.
ED officials had earlier hinted that the April 9 summons could possibly be the last to Mallya as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) restricts such action to be undertaken for a maximum number of three times only. The Investigating Officer (IO) of the case had allowed his plea to postpone his appearance till now, both on technical and legal grounds.
It is understood that Mallya, while seeking the 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, was last week directed by the Supreme Court to disclose by April 21 the total assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad.
The directions by the apex court came after a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India unanimously rejected his proposal, in the current form, to pay Rs 4,000 crore by September towards settlement of his loan.
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.