NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday defended its decision to dilute the lookout notice on liquor baron Vijay Mallya saying it did not consider him a ‘flight risk’.
According to sources, the notice was downgraded as the agency felt he was being cooperative with the probe initially and officials did not expect him to flee.The decision to downgrade the notice was taken after Mallya made three trips to London, before which he informed authorities of his travel plans. “He was frequently going and coming back. Between his first return to India (November 24, 2015) and before he escaped, he joined the probe thrice and always returned to India after his visits abroad,” an official said.
The first notice issued on October 16, 2015, directed authorities to ‘detain’ Mallya while the watered down one, issued on November 24, 2015, directed them only to ‘inform’ the agency about his arrival and travel.
Agency sources said at the time when the notice was downgraded, the agency did not intend to arrest him. It did have a warrant against him and he was a sitting MP, who was cooperating with the officials in earlier investigation. Also, there was a lack of evidence and no formal complaint was lodged against him. The CBI says it registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy against Mallya on July 29, 2015, based on source information. The agency claims that no bank approached it with a formal complaint accusing Mallya of not repaying his debts.
The downgrading of the notice has taken centre stage after the liquor baron told the media in London that he had met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving the country. The Congress has ramped up its attack on FM with a Congress MP claiming that he was an eyewitness to the meeting.
The first notice issued on October 16, 2015, directed authorities to ‘detain’ Mallya while the watered down one, issued on November 24, 2015, directed them only to ‘inform’ the agency about his arrival and travel plans. Agency sources said at the time when the notice was downgraded it did not intend to arrest him.