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Probe PMO, Jaitley role in Mallya escape — Congress

Banks failed to file a case or move for confiscation of Mallya’s passport, Congress spokesman says

New Delhi: Upping the ante against the Narendra Modi government for its “collaboration” in letting Vijay Mallya flee the country, the Congress on Tuesday demanded a probe into why the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley did not act against the liquor baron.

“Complicity, collusion, connivance and collaboration of the Modi government at the highest level has been unmasked. Nothing can absolve Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of their responsibility in Vijay Mallya’s escape,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

Pointing to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) changing stance against Mallya in the Rs90 billion (Dh4.5 billion) loan default case, the Congress leader questioned if the “PMO nudged the CBI to protect Mallya”.

“Why has CBI shifted its stance thrice — ‘Seeking Advance Information’ to ‘Inadvertent Error’ to ‘Error of Judgment’? Why are the two officers — Joint Director A.K. Sharma and SP Harshita Attaluri — mum on the reason for changing ‘Lookout Notice to Detain’ to ‘Inform’?” Surjewala asked.

He also said that a consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India was advised to move the Supreme Court against Mallya on February 29, 2016, and get his passport impounded.

“On February 29, the banks failed to file a case or move for confiscation of Mallya’s passport. They moved the Supreme Court against Mallya only on March 5 after he had escaped on March 2, 2016. Who directed them not to act against Mallya?” he said.

Surjewala also questioned Jaitley’s failure to inform the banks, the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and the immigration authorities about his meeting with Mallya and to detain him.

The Congress demanded a comprehensive probe into the role of the PMO, Jaitley and officers of the Finance Ministry, the CBI including then Director Anil Sinha, Joint Director Sharma and SP Attaluri as well as the consortium of banks, particularly the management of State Bank of India, for not acting against Mallya.

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