In a double whammy for beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, the Special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court yesterday not only rejected the claims made by his lawyers that he did not use Rs 423 crore of the loan amount to invest in properties abroad, as claimed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), it also issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
The ED had moved the Special PMLA court on April 15 and filed an application seeking issuance of a non-bailable warrant against Mallya for failing to show up despite being summoned repeatedly. During the previous hearing, Mallya’s lawyers had submitted an application in the court stating that their client never misused the loan amount to buy international properties. However, the matter was adjourned till yesterday after the prosecution countered the claims made by the defence.
Arguing in favour of Mallya, senior lawyer Amit Desai told the court that A Raghunathan, former chief financial officer (CFO) of Kingfisher Airlines (KA) and Ravi Nedungadi, CFO, UB Group, ensured their presence every time the ED summoned them for questioning. He also requested the court to wait for a while, as submissions of documents and information would be done in the next few days and requested the court to consider those papers before passing any order.
Unimpressed by Desai’s arguments, Special PMLA Judge PR Bhavake rejected Mallya’s application and issued a non-bailable warrant against him. While issuing the warrant, Judge Bhavake observed: “It is found that accused Mallya was served summons on three occasions. However, he failed to appear before the Enforcement Directorate or the investigating officer, and gave evasive reply. Thereby avoided appearing before the investigating agency.”
The judge also made another observation while rejecting the application debunking the allegation of money laundering. “The offence of money laundering involves a huge amount of Rs 9,000 crore and the present accused (Mallya) is responsible for laundering of the said amount obtained from crime. Hence Mallya’s presence is really necessary and he should secure his presence before the ED,” the judge stated.