The CBI today defended a senior official against allegations of “allowing” fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to escape. CBI spokesperson said the “lookout circular” was not changed “individually” but the decision was taken at the “appropriate level”.
Calling the allegations against Joint Director AK Sharma “baseless”, CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said they have mentioned “many times” that the change in the notice against Vijay Mallya was done as there was no sufficient ground to arrest or detain him.
The CBI’s response came soon after Congress President Rahul Gandhi called AK Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer PM Modi’s “blue-eyed boy”.
CBI Jt. Director, A K Sharma, weakened Mallya’s “Look Out” notice, allowing Mallya to escape.
Mr Sharma, a Gujarat cadre officer, is the PM’s blue-eyed-boy in the CBI.
The same officer was in charge of Nirav Modi & Mehul Choksi’s escape plans. Ooops…
– Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 15, 2018
Mr Gandhi’s tweet came after NDTV reported that Mr Sharma had changed the lookout notice against Mallya from an order to detain him at the airport if he tried escaping to one that simply needed his departure be recorded.
Earlier this week, the Congress leader had accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of “colluding” with Mallya to help him flee the country and demanded his resignation. Congress leader PL Puniya also claimed Arun Jaitley and Mallya had a “15 minute sit-down meeting in Parliament” before the tycoon left for the UK.
Asked whether he was tipped off about the investigations, Mallya told reporters outside a UK court hearing a case on his extradition to India: “I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth.” He said he had also told the minister that he was leaving for London.
On the PNB fraud case, the agency official said that CBI received complaint against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi almost a month after they had left the country.
“Therefore the question of any CBI officer having any hand in their fleeing the country does not arise. Prompt action was taken by CBI in the case immediately after the complaint was received from the bank,” CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal added.
Mallya, 62, flamboyant liquor baron and former parliamentarian, is being investigated for fraud and money-laundering. In the UK for the past two years, he has been fighting India’s attempts to bring him back to face trial.
Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi are under probe by both the CBI and ED. Nirav Modi left India along with his family in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI. His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and Mehul Choksi on January 4.
(with inputs from IANS)