Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused a senior Central Bureau of Investigation official of weakening businessman Vijay Mallya’s lookout notice in 2016, which reportedly allowed him to leave for London. In a tweet, Gandhi called Gujarat-cadre officer AK Sharma Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “blue-eyed boy” in the investigating agency.
In 2016, Sharma was a joint director at the agency and was promoted to the position of additional director general in April. “The same officer was in charge of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi’s escape plans,” Gandhi alleged. “Ooops...investigation!”
The agency issued a circular in October 2015, asking the Bureau of Immigration to detain Mallya if he attempted to leave the country. However, a month later it modified the notice, asking that it be informed if Mallya is found entering or exiting India.
Gandhi’s tweet came after an NDTV report claimed that Sharma issued the order to dilute the notice without the permission of then Central Bureau of Investigation Director Anil Sinha. A joint director can take such decisions only in offences to the tune of up to Rs 60 crore. Mallya is accused of defrauding Indian banks of more than Rs 9,000 crore.
On Friday, Gandhi alleged that Modi had approved the downgrading of the lookout notice. He accused the CBI of aiding Mallya’s “great escape” by “quietly changing the ‘detain’ notice to ‘inform’”. The day before, the agency claimed it had diluted the notice in November 2015 as it did not consider Mallya to be a flight risk at the time.