Vijay Mallya’s high drama resignation from RS; CBI’s cul de sac on French translation

Liquor-baron, Vijay Mallya, may have resigned from Rajya Sabha to save himself from a certain ignominy of being expelled, but the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has gone on a different trip.

Vijay Mallya. Reuters

Vijay Mallya. Reuters

The agency has been looking for a French translator in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who can translate letter rogatory on the Vijay Mallya case to three French-speaking nations- France, Switzerland and Mauritius. In the last case, even Bhojpuri would do though sleuths are sifting though Interpol protocol to do it correctly.

Given the international dealings shown in the accounts of Vijay Mallya, the CBI would be sending letter rogatory to France, Switzerland, Britain, Virginia Island, Bermuda, Hong Kong and United States of America (USA). Nearly 40-odd accounting entries that showed transfer of money to these countries are to be examined to arrive at a conclusion.

Official sources said the top brass of the CBI is still grappling with the translation problem. As per the international protocol, the letter rogatory has to be served in the official language of the nation. Given the involvement of many firms across the globe, the letter rogatory is a mandatory step to initiate sound, legal proceedings. “This process is getting delayed inordinately” commented officials involved in the case.

On the other hand, the CBI seems determined to pursue the objective of getting media hype. For instance, an effort is being made to freeze the account of Airbus which has declined to release around Rs 120 crore that the banks deposited with them as surety for the deal. Since the deal fell through, Mallya’s own money and the banks’ contribution got stuck in the bank.

What appears to have amazed investigating team is the ingenuity of top brasses to come up with ideas that can catch media’s attention. “There is no way we can freeze accounts of the Airbus in France or Switzerland,” they point out. Similarly it is next to impossible to freeze accounts of Vijay Mallya without proving his criminality in the “suspected bank fraud” case.

Apparently, the manner in which the Vijay Mallya case is being dealt with exposes the fault line of the government. After sifting through 8 lakh accounting entries, the CBI is still in no position to prove the culpability of Mallya. Till date, the CBI has not been able to find any diversion of funds. This is the reason why sleuths in the CBI are relying more on letter rogatory to initiate investigations by other countries. Even the CBI’s own investigation into the Rs 90 crore deal of two Euro copters came to nought.

While the CBI has been maintaining a low profile on the issue, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seems to have come with startling revelations about money laundering by Mallya.  If one goes by the ED’s assertions, it means that Mallya had laundered a huge of sum of money to foreign countries where he has assets and business. This is certainly at odds with the findings of the CBI. Significantly, the ED has still not revealed the basis on which the money laundering charges were slapped against Mallya.

Given Mallya’s image of a flamboyant tycoon who allegedly escaped defaulting Rs 9,000 crore (including the interest accrued on principal) of Indian banks, the ED’s story is getting exciting traction in the media and popular imagination.  However, there are serious doubts if the government’s efforts to nail Mallya will stand legal scrutiny and set an example for other defaulters.

By all indications, it seems well nigh impossible to extradite Mallya by raising a din in the media. So far, our record of bringing criminals to justice from foreign lands has been dismal. Nadeem (part of the famous music directors in Bollywood, Naddem-Shravan ) and Lalit Modi have been cocking a snook at our efforts and show Europe’s scant regard for India's legal system.

This is the context to which the Mallya episode assumes significance. A vilified Mallya safely ensconced in Britain would not only belie India’s self-assumed grandiosity internationally but also make a caricature of our infirm criminal-legal system. The cavalier manner in which the Mallya episode is being dealt with exposes a serious drift in governance, which may end up with the government having egg on its face.

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Updated Date: May 03, 2016 12:39:45 IST

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