The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an official release has strongly refuted allegations made by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The Congress president in a tweet alleged that AK Sharma, the joint director of CBI, weakened the lookout circular (LOC) against the King of Good Times, Vijay Mallya and allowed him to flee the country.
The agency in an official statement said that, “Some baseless allegations have been made by certain individuals against a senior officer of CBI. As has been stated a number of times earlier, the decision to change the LOC against Vijay Mallya was taken because at the time there wasn’t sufficient ground for the CBI to detain and arrest him. The decision was taken at the appropriate level as a part of procedure and not individually by the officer as alleged.”
Rahul Gandhi in a tweet said, “CBI Jt. Director, AK 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 … investigation!”
“CBI received a complaint against Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi from PNB 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,” the CBI said in reply to Rahul’s allegations.
AK Sharma, joint director of CBI, is presently posted as Additional Director, Policy and Anti Corruption Unit.
India Today has learnt that after Mallya fled from India in March 2016, there was huge pressure on the CBI regarding his LoC being diluted but the agency decided not to order a probe into it.
A source told India Today that, “The decision to dilute the LoC was taken keeping in mind the circumstances at that time. The investigation was at a very primary stage and there was no sufficient ground and evidence to arrest Mallya. He was also cooperating with the investigations and appeared before the agency thrice for questioning. No probe or internal inquiry was ordered then and now there is nothing new to order an inquiry into this.”
Vijay Mallya, has managed to set off a storm in India from London with his statement that he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country.
Apart from Arun Jaitley, the CBI is in the dock as the LOC issued against Mallya in 2015 was downgraded just a few months before he left the country – otherwise, he would have been detained at the airport.
A Preliminary Enquiry (PE) was initiated against Mallya in July 2015 by the CBI in a loan default case, and an FIR registered in September 2015. On October 16, when Mallya was out of the country, the agency requested that an LOC be issued against him.
This LOC meant that if Mallya tried to leave the country, he could be detained by the immigration department of the concerned airport.
Just before Mallya was to return to India on November 24, 2015, the Bureau of Immigration asked the CBI if he should be detained. The agency said no to this, and immediately, a fresh LOC was issued.
It was this LOC that was downgraded and it said that the Bureau of Immigration was only to inform the CBI of Mallya’s travel plans and not detain him.
The most important question now is on whose instructions was the LOC downgraded? Was it done deliberately to allow Mallya to flee the country?
According to sources in the agency, “As Mallya was already back in India, it was not necessary to detain or arrest him at that point of time. He was also cooperating with the investigations and had left India and came back twice. We never anticipated he would flee the country.”