The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has put the Deccan Aviation Ltd (DAL) founder, GR Gopinath under the scanner for his alleged role in the debt default by fugitive economic offender Vijay Mallya.
According to sources, the CBI is scrutinizing Gopinath’s role in signing the ‘instruments’ through which the ‘diversion’ of loans from the State Bank of India was allegedly caused. He is also said to be in the agency’s radar for the ‘diversion of funds’ through Axis Bank accounts.
However, Gopinath has been unavailable for comments and despite multiple attempts to reach out to him, he remains irresponsive.
Incidentally, when the loans were disbursed to Kingfisher Airlines, Gopinath was one of the directors of the airlines. He joined the board after selling Air Deccan to Mallya in 2007.
Gopinath is being inspected with regards to a loan of Rs 340 crore sanctioned by SBI to Deccan Aviation. He had signed the instruments of diversion, as per the investigation. He was the authorised signatory for DAL.
Also, a payment of Rs 30 crore by Kingfisher Airlines to Gopinath in February 2008 is being examined. This payment reportedly coincided with the disbursement of Rs 29.96 crore by SBI to Kingfisher Airlines on February 1, 2008.
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) in its 2017 report, had also disputed this particular payment of Rs 30 crore by KAL to Gopinath contending that the ‘non-compete fee’ was given without disclosing it to stakeholders or the high court.
A number of suspects, apart from Mallya, that include top Kingfisher Airlines executives, senior bank officials and a former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor were brought under the scanner by the investigative agency, but it is still undecided as to whose name would appear in the yet to be filed chargesheet.
Vijay Mallya is wanted by investigating agencies in India on the charges of Money Laundering, Fraud and violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). His Kingfisher airlines owe around ₹9,000 crore of debt to creditors, and Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) has attached a significant amount of properties belonging to Mallya.
Recently the UK home secretary signed the order to extradite fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to India. In December last year, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had ordered the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya after a trial that lasted over a year, and the decision was pending with the UK government.
Vijay Mallya will soon join the bandwagon of several high-value extradited individuals that India has been successful in expatriating from various foreign countries in the recent past.