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Last Updated : Sep 14, 2018 07:18 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

CBI to file fresh charge sheet against finance ministry officials in Vijay Mallya case: Report

The agency is specifically investigating the role of the then Government of India Joint Secretary (banking), Amitabh Verma, as they found several references to in Mallay's emails.

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is planning to file a fresh charge sheet against finance ministry officials who were involved in the disbursal of loans from public sector banks to Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines, reported The Economic Times quoting people aware of the development.

The CBI has already officially approached the finance ministry and formally obtained relevant documentation to build this case. The CBI team has also questioned some of the finance ministry officials from the relevant period. Currently, it is looking at the acquired documents to widen the investigation against concerned officials.

Earlier, the CBI had seized more than a lakh internal email exchanges dated between 2008 and 2013 during the search of Kingfisher Airlines owner Vijay Mallya’s residence. These emails included communications with PMO, finance ministry, civil aviation ministry and petroleum ministry, among others, regarding bank loans and supply of aircraft turbine fuel on credit, the report said.

These email exchanges were also documented in the report of the corporate ministry’s Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).
A majority of these email conversations were between Mallya and his key company advisers, regarding the financial restructuring of the airline, particularly AK Ravi Nedungadi, Harish Bhat and A Raghunathan.

The agency is specifically investigating the role of the then government of India Joint Secretary (banking), Amitabh Verma, as they found several references to him in Mallya's emails.

“Amitabh called me to ask how the SBI meeting went, I gave him a detailed report and emphasised the urgency and criticality of getting an adhoc disbursement of Rs 500 crore by March 31. Amitabh said he had spoken to Mr Bhat and that this disbursement would happen,” Mallya wrote to Ravi Nedungadi in an email dated March 26, 2009.

The state-owned bank did sanction a credit of Rs 500 crore to Kingfisher by April, which reflected in SBI’s annual appraisal report as part of Kingfisher’s Rs 2,000-crore credit requirements, according to the evidence available with CBI.

The agency believes that public sector banks were forced into lending to Kingfisher without due diligence. Thus, they are looking closely at Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Canara BankIndian BankIndian Overseas Bank and Syndicate Bank.

Until now, the case against Mallya has revolved around him defaulting on loan repayment. This development has, however, opened ways for investigating claims such as the possibility of political intervention of several UPA ministers to make loans available to Mallya.

The CBI is seeking Mallya’s extradition in a court in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, the CBI on Thursday said the change in a 2015 lookout circular against Mallya from “detain” to merely "obtain information about his movements" was an “error” in judgement. The change was because Mallya was cooperating in the probe and there was no warrant against him.
First Published on Sep 14, 2018 01:08 pm
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