After Mallya's arrest, is former IPL boss Lalit Modi next in firing line?
With Mallya in the dock, the focus will soon shift to India’s other big-ticket absconder.
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya was on Tuesday arrested by Scotland Yard in London. The defaulter will now be produced before a British Court, where it will be determined whether his offences are “extraditable”. With Mallya in the dock, the focus will soon shift to India’s other big-ticket absconder – disgraced IPL czar Lalit Modi. After this high-profile arrest on Tuesday, is Lalit Modi next?
The case against Lalit Modi:
In April 2010, the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) suspended Mallya on 22 charges, including bid rigging, money laundering, betting and receiving kickbacks on broadcast deals. The Manmohan Singh government had initiated an investigation against Modi under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). He was accused of accepting Rs. 200 million from UK-based Emerging Media, paying Rs 2.43 billion to Cricket South Africa in contravention of FEMA, telling selective bidders how much to bid during the first IPL team auction in 2008, using illegal money to buy corporate jet through a Cayman Islands company and other violations under FEMA.
During this time, Modi fled to the UK and defended himself by claiming that he was “not individually responsible” for the alleged violations. He refused to return to India, claiming that there was a threat to his life from the underworld.
Escape to the UK:
Modi was already in London when the Indian government, then lead by the UPA, revoked his passport. He challenged this decision in the Delhi High Court, where one of his lawyers was BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj. British MP Keith Vaz had reportedly lobbied with UK immigration officials to give Modi travel documents to go to Portugal, where his wife was being treated for cancer. Vaz had reportedly cited a recommendation from Sushma Swaraj, now the minister for external affairs. However, when British authorities had asked Swaraj again in 2014, she had asked them to “go by the law of the land”.
In 2011, Modi’s stay in the UK was extended due to testimony from a “credible witness”. In 2015, Modi revealed that the testimony was from BJP leader and current Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. She had reportedly claimed Modi was a victim of a “political witch-hunt” by the Congress.
The roadblock:In 2015, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India had requested the Interpol to issue a global warrant against Modi. It had also sought a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him. After delaying the request for nearly two years, the Interpol had rejected the ED’s request claiming there was "insufficient judicial data" against Modi. This was despite the fact that the ED had submitted FIR records, statements and other reports.