The Enforcement Directorate on Friday revealed in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court that fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya spoke to Yasmin Kapoor last week asking her to manage his case. Kapoor is a close aide of aviation lobbyist Deepak Talwar. Vijay Mallya is currently facing extradition proceedings in London.
The ED’s special public prosecutor Nitesh Rana made this remarkable revelation before CBI judge Anurag Sain at the Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court. Vijay Mallya allegedly called her and asked her to manage his case in the ED. Nitish Rana was reportedly opposing Yasmin Kapoor’s anticipatory bail plea in the money-laundering probe related to Deepak Talwar’s NGO Advantage India. While Kapoor playing an important role in Money-laundering, it is alleged that the NGO received approximately 90.72 crores rupees under the CSR Scheme for carrying out social activities but diverted for other purposes.
Yasmin Kapoor was arrested earlier by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the last September, later she was taken into custody by ED but for different cases related to causing damage to Air India by favoring private airlines. After spending 3 months in jail, she was later granted bail on December 13.
Now ED is seeking to arrest Kapoor in the NGO Advantage India case as she might be a key link to unearth a larger conspiracy in Talwar’s deals. It is alleged that Kapoor is a shareholder or director in several shell companies created or controlled by Talwar.
While showing the case files including two-page transcripts of Kapoor’s conversation with Mallya to Judge on Friday, Nitesh Rana informed the court that Vijay Mallya made a phone call to Yasmin Kapoor asking her “if she knew ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra” and if she can help “manage the case”. Kapoor told Mallya that she has no acquaintance with ED director but she knows the “number 2” in the agency. Her phone was put under surveillance by ED.
A source said, “it appears that Mallya was in touch with Kapoor on more than one occasion. A female associate of Mallya was also calling Yasmin Kapoor”.
“Mallya’s call from London to Kapoor is strong evidence against him as well. We will convey to the UK high court in February, when his appeal against extradition comes for hearing, that he is trying to influence the investigation in India,” the ED officer Nitish Rana added.
Nitesh Rana asserted: “Yasmin Kapoor’s past conduct has also been questionable as she has tried to influence and destroy the evidence earlier as well. Since she came out on bail [in December], she has been trying to influence the probe”.
Kapoor’s lawyer and senior Advocate N Hariharan strongly objected against the surveillance of Kapoor’s phone and he termed it “unconstitutional”.
Questioning the permissibility of surveillance, N Hariharan said: “First of all, I don’t understand what they are trying to prove. Just for the sake of prejudice, you create something and place it before the court. How can an unrelated matter (Mallya case) be ground in another matter? When there is nothing against her in an unrelated case, is ED trying to say she can’t talk to anybody?”
On it, Rana reverted that “tapping was done after following the due procedure” and that “if any evidence surfaces during the course of surveillance, it is my (ED’s) duty to place it [before the court]”.
Hariharan added that “ED has already questioned Yasmin Kapoor in the case. Why does it need her custody now? There is nothing in the case”.
A charge sheet was filed in Aviation case on November 30, 2019, against Kapoor, after ED alleged that they diverted a huge amount of worth approximately 144 crores. Deepak Talwar was deported from Dubai in January, after which he was arrested by ED; he was taken under the custody of CBI in July. He is currently placed in Tihar jail.
He is accused of receiving payments of approximately 272 crores during 2008-09 from private international airlines by the preference of securing favorable traffic rights using his contacts, allegedly causing huge damage to state-owned Air India.