Mallya won’t appear before ED today, seeks time till May end

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya has refused to present himself before the investigators in Mumbai on Saturday in connection with a money laundering probe in the over Rs 900 crore IDBI loan fraud case and has sought time till May end to respond to Enforcement Directorate’s notice.

Mallya said he would need more time to appear before ED as he is negotiating the settlement proposal with banks.

The agency had issued fresh summons, also the third, last week to Mallya asking him to appear before it on April 9, after he sought two extensions from the earlier dates of March 18 and April 2 citing certain official reasons..

ED officials had earlier hinted that the April 9 summons could possibly be the last to Mallya as under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) such action can be undertaken for a maximum 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 worth over Rs 9,000 crore from various banks, was also directed by the Supreme Court to disclose by April 21 the total assets owned by him and his family in India and abroad.

The apex court also sought an indication from him when he will appear before it.

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. He is currently 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 KFA and looking into any payment of kickbacks to secure loan.

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