ED Rejects Mallya’s Video-Conferencing Request


New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is not in a mood to accept liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s request of questioning him via video-conferencing, an idea floated by Mallya to avoid face to face interrogation by the agency in Rs 900 crore money laundering case.

Karnail Singh, director of ED, in an exclusive talk to Indiatoday.in confirmed that, the agency has “completely rejected the idea of interrogating Vijay Mallya via video-conferencing.”

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Singh said, “No matter what Mallya has stated about getting “victimized” or “seeking safe passage” or “willing to come back in India”, our present position is quite clear that investigation is on right track with right pace. The agency is not going to be softer on Mallya.”

On the issue of video-conferencing request, Singh told Indiatoday, that if banks want to resolve certain payment issues with Mallya through video-conferencing facility, than they can go ahead.

“We have no problem. But in case of ED, we are completely against this idea. The reason is whether the person is lying or hiding something while questioning, it could be seen on the face during personal interrogation, but not on video-conferencing”, Singh explained. Off-late, Mallya participated in the board meeting of United Breweries via a video-call.

That’s not all, the king of good times might face some tough times too, in the days to come, as ED has decided to get tougher and smarter while dealing with Mallya. Sources confirmed Indiatoday.in that a special auditing tool has been brought in to investigate the complete money trail of Mallya.

This software or the forensic audit tool is nothing, but a combination of three prominent software used world-wide for data analysis and data mining.

“Three software such as; Pivot Table, Macros Excel and Idea – have been assembled (mixed-up) and a new exclusive tool has been created out of it and handed over to the ED. Our team is regularly training the ED official on this special auditing tool for the investigation of Mallya case,” the source told Indiatoday.in, who is also connected to Mumbai’s leading forensic audit firm – working on forensic audit projects against various willful defaulters.

For instance, when an agency compile data in a list, it often needs to answer question such as, “How much revenue did the company generate last month?” or “What was the average number of customers /vendors served at each office in each quarter last year?” The first tool – Pivot Tables software can provide those types of answers. The second tool – Macros Excel is to simplify comparing means and variances, doing regression testing and other key data analysis and techniques. The third tool IDEA is used to analyse 100 per cent data and locate fraudulent transactions in core business systems.

“The new software will help the agency to probe three crucial aspects; First, how much money had been spent on vendors, sub-vendors and aircraft related entities by Kingfisher Airlines and what strategies were put in place. Whether these vendors paid the money to second layer or third layer of companies, if yes, how much? The second aspect is – where the total money (bank loan) has gone, is it in India or gone abroad? The third crucial aspect is who are the beneficiaries, how much money has gone in their bank accounts.”

Off late, it was reported that CBI officials are looking into 5 lakh transactions made by Mallya in several accounts. Out of that 60 per cent of the five lakh such transactions – around three lakh – had been diverted to accounts in four countries. In totality, the CBI officials are working overnight to track the money trail of all the transactions and loans taken by business tycoon and Kingfisher Airlines totaling Rs 7000 crore since 2004.

Seeing that, the enforcement directorate is completely geared up with its special forensic tool in hand and to complete the challenging task of Mallya’s money trail – in next few months. The fact remains, on Tuesday, Karnail Singh visited Mumbai and had a discreet meeting with CBI officials in order to monitor the Mallya case and strategise its further action plan.

Off late, the agency had admitted that Mallya is “among the sharpest minds in corporate India,” for creating a complex layers of companies, mostly with bogus directors and bogus addresses – both in India and abroad, for the purpose of diverting the money.

At present, the ED is looking into the book of accounts of almost 30-40 companies (out of the 77 companies that are under the agency’s radar). The government agancy also suspects that Mallya has siphoned off a huge amount of money in 20 different companies.