The agency is also understood to be mulling to take "legal action" in case Mallya does not present himself on March 18.

news Mallya Case Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 08:12

Enforcement Directorate (ED) has written to 17 banks and a clutch of probe agencies with an aim to prepare a watertight case against liquor baron Vijay Mallya who is being probed for money laundering charges in the IDBI bank alleged loan fraud case.

The agency is also understood to be mulling to take "legal action" in case Mallya does not present himself or produce valid reasons for absenting before agency investigators as scheduled on March 18 in Mumbai.

Official sources said the agency has written to the 17 banks who lent money to the grounded Kingfisher Airlines and later went to the Debt Recovery Tribunal(DRT) for recovery of these dues.

It has also sent official requests seeking details of the probe conducted by the Income Tax and Service Tax departments and the Special Frauds Investigation Office(SFIO) against the airline in the past.

"The exercise of contacting all the stakeholders concerned in this case is with an aim to obtain more information. The agency's probe is under criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and there has to be a proper corroboration of facts and solid evidence," they said.

They said the agency is also looking for details of overseas and domestic assets of Mallya and his company officials, in coordination with central security agencies and the CBI.

ED has already questioned two senior officials in the money laundering case, former Chief Financial Officer of the airlines A Raghunathan and former United Breweries Chief Financial Officer Ravi Nedungadi.

They said the investigators are awaiting a response from Mallya on their summons, sent both through post and email, to him to join investigations in person later this week and in case the businessman does not turn up or give valid reasons for absence, it would look to initiate legal action of probably getting his passport revoked.

Meanwhile, beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, mired in a controversy for leaving India in the middle of a massive loan default probe, on Monday appeared to distance himself from an interview that quoted him as having said that time was not "right" to return to the country.

"Shocked to see media statements that I gave an interview to Sunday Guardian without verification. I have not given any statement to anyone," Mallya tweeted tonight on his official Twitter page. He did not elaborate further on the contents of the said interview.

Under fire over dues totalling over Rs 9,000 crore of long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines in unpaid loans and interest, Mallya left the country on March 2, triggering a political row with Congress and BJP trading charges.

While it has been widely reported that he had left for London, Mallya himself has been silent about his whereabouts but has been tweeting occasionally including to say he was not an "absconder" and he would comply with the "law of the land".

Yesterday, the 'The Sunday Guardian' quoted him as having said in an e-mail interview, "I am an Indian to the core. Of course I want to return. But I am not sure I'll get a fair chance to present my side. I've already been branded as criminal. I do not feel the time is right."

Mallya, however, did not respond to repeated emailed queries from PTI as also to the messages sent to his phone.

No immediate comments could be obtained from the weekly newspaper and the phone calls made to its office did not elicit any response regarding the interview.

Yesterday, Mallya had tweeted, "I am being hunted down by media in UK. Sadly they did not look in the obvious place. I will not speak to media so don't waste your efforts."

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