The Central Bureau of Investigation is going to investigate whether some public sector banks were pressured into lending and restructuring loans granted to Vijay Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines. CBI officials said they will focus on the role of “political pressure” in their investigation into cases involving the businessman. Mallya owes around Rs 7,000 crore to 13 Indian banks, which had filed a petition in the Supreme Court last week to prevent him from leaving the country. He had earlier said he planned to leave India and move to the United Kingdom to be closer to his family.
In a separate investigation, the Enforcement Directorate is looking into why IDBI Bank extended a loan of Rs 90 crore to the airline, despite being aware of the financial trouble it was in. Mallya has yet to respond to an email the ED sent on Saturday summoning him on March 18. The investigative body also interrogated former chief financial officer of the United Breweries Group, Ravi Nedungadi, who remained evasive during questioning and did not reveal any information about Mallya’s investments and properties abroad, ED officials said. They added that he only provided information already in the public domain, according to The Times of India. The ED is reportedly trying to establish whether Mallya and the banks worked together as his loans were not backed by enough collateral.
In another development, former chief minister of Karnataka and chief of the Janata Dal (Secular) party HD Deve Gowda said on Saturday that Mallya was a “son of the soil” and was “not running away from the country”. He also questioned why his case alone was making headlines when there were many other bigger defaulters, according to a PTI report. “There are 60 other major people who have defaulted…The media is bothered about Mallya because he is a Rajya Sabha member,” Gowda said. The businessman became a member of the Upper House for two terms from Karnataka with the support of the JD(S).