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India Tightens Noose Around Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi; CBI-ED-NIA Team To Visit UK Soon

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New Delhi: In a significant move, a joint team comprising officers from India’s top investigative agencies – the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and National Investigation Agency (NIA) –  is gearing up to visit the UK soon to expedite the extradition of notorious individuals wanted by India, including defence dealer Sanjay Bhandari, diamond trader Nirav Modi, and Kingfisher Airlines promoter Vijay Mallya, according to credible sources on Tuesday.

Bilateral Talks To Strengthen Legal Cooperation

The team bound for London is set to engage in crucial bilateral discussions aimed at fortifying the longstanding exchange of information pending with UK authorities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). As signatories to MLAT, India and the UK are obligated to legally share information on criminal investigations involving economic offenders and others. Notably, the NIA team is concurrently investigating multiple terror suspects associated with the Khalistan movement.

Diplomatic Manoeuvres: MEA’s Active Involvement

Despite the Union Home Ministry being the designated authority for MLAT matters, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is actively involved in diplomatic interactions with the UK in this instance. All requests are channelled through MEA for foreign countries.

Key MEA Representative In High-Stakes Meeting

The team, crucially, will include a senior officer from the MEA during the meeting with UK authorities. The meeting sessions will be conducted under close supervision by the Indian High Commission in London.

Timeline & Objectives

If all unfolds as planned, the joint team is anticipated to depart later this month. Apart from expediting the extradition process, the team aims to gather crucial information about the assets obtained by the fugitives in London. This includes specifics about their banking transactions.

Identifying Assets For Seizure: Proceeds Of Crime

Insiders privy to the development informed ANI that initiatives are underway to identify the properties of these individuals not only in the UK but also in other countries. The ultimate goal is to seize the ‘proceeds of crime.’

Extradition Challenges: Appeals In Higher Courts

The extradition cases of Bhandari, Modi, and Mallya are currently awaiting resolution in the UK, as they have appealed in higher courts against deportation to India. The ED has already seized their assets in India, recovering substantial funds that were returned to banks to settle outstanding dues.

Bhandari’s Alleged Links And ED’s Investigation

Bhandari, an arms dealer who fled in 2016, is known to have close ties with Robert Vadra, husband of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi. The ED is investigating Bhandari, along with CC Thampi, an alleged associate of Vadra, for alleged payoffs received in various defence deals. Bhandari’s properties in India, totalling over Rs 26 crore, have been attached, and he has been declared a fugitive economic offender by a special court.

Allegations Against Nirav Modi, Mallya

Nirav Modi faces allegations in a fraud case related to Punjab National Bank funds exceeding Rs 6,500 crore, while Mallya’s assets, valued at over Rs 5,000 crore, have been attached and seized due to bank defrauding activities. This collaborative effort seeks to bring these fugitives to justice and unravel the intricate web of financial wrongdoing spanning multiple countries.

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