Vijay Mallya seeks time until May to appear before ED

Cash broke liquor baron Vijay Mallya has not presented himself before investigators of the Enforcement Directororate (ED) in Mumbai today and has instead sought time till May to depose before the agency which is probing his role in a money laundering case in the over Rs900 crore IDBI loan fraud case.

Mallya has informed the investigating officer at ED's Mumbai zonal office that he will not be able to keep the 2 April scheduled and that he should be given a fresh date, some time in May.

Mallya is reported to have informed the investigating officer at the Enforcement directorate (ED) that cases related to bank loans are currently being dealt in the Supreme Court and he is trying to settle these loans with the help of his legal and corporate team and this would need more time.

The ED is reported to be weighing options for its next action, and may not be "too keen" to accede to his request given the "gravity" of the PMLA case. The investigators are yet to respond to Mallya's request, according to the agency.

"His personal appearance is important to unravel the alleged irregularities reported to have been done in the IDBI loan fraud case. Money laundering offences probe are serious. Also, under PMLA, the onus to prove not guilty is on the accused and not on the investigating agency," sources said.

The agency could either agree and issue him a third date or undertake steps to possibly take legal action for revoking his passport.

Mallya was first summoned by the ED to "appear in person" at its office in the Ballard Pier area in Mumbai on 18 March but after he sought more time citing his prior engagements, the agency asked him to depose on 2 April.

"All options are open. The merits of the case will decide the future course of action," sources said.

Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines Ltd had on 30 March submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover a proposal for repayment of Rs4,000 crore out of the loan amount of Rs6,903 crore to the consortium of banks led by State Bank of India by September this year.

The ED first issued summons to the United Breweries (UB) chairman under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and it required him to furnish documents related to his personal investments and finances, income tax returns for the last five years and passport.

The ED had recently registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on a CBI FIR registered last year. The agency is also investigating the overall financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and will look into any payment of kickbacks to secure loan.