Cong chief tar­gets CBI of­fi­cer, agency dis­misses charge

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - HT Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi on Satur­day al­leged that a Gu­jarat-cadre of­fi­cer in the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) had weak­ened the look­out no­tice against fugi­tive busi­ness­man Vi­jay Mallya that helped him flee the coun­try in March 2016. The CBI termed the al­le­ga­tion base­less.

Gandhi al­leged on Twit­ter that AK Sharma had played a cru­cial role in weak­en­ing the look­out no­tice against Mallya and in the es­cape plans of fugi­tive diamond traders Ni­rav Modi and Me­hul Choksi in Jan­uary this year.

“CBI Jt Di­rec­tor, AK Sharma, weak­ened Mallya’s “Look Out” no­tice, al­low­ing Mallya to es­cape,” Gandhi posted on the mi­croblog­ging site.

“The same of­fi­cer was in charge of Ni­rav Modi & Me­hul Choksi’s es­cape plans. Ooops...in­ves­ti­ga­tion! (sic),” he wrote.

Mallya is fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to In­dia on charges of fraud and money-laun­der­ing amount­ing to around ₹9,000 crore.

The CBI has strongly re­futed the charges made by Gandhi. “As it has been stated a num­ber of times ear­lier, the de­ci­sion to change the Look Out No­tice against Vi­jay Mallya was taken be­cause at the time there was not suf­fi­cient grounds for CBI to de­tain and ar­rest him,” it said.

The agency said the de­ci­sion to down­grade the look­out no­tice was taken at the ap­pro­pri­ate level as part of a process, and not individually by the of­fi­cer as al­leged.

“CBI re­ceived com­plaint against Ni­rav Modi and Me­hul Choksi from Punjab Na­tional Bank al­most a month af­ter they had left the coun­try. There­fore the ques­tion of any CBI of­fi­cer hav­ing any hand in their flee­ing the coun­try doesn’t arise”, it said.the CBI said it had taken “prompt” ac­tion in the case af­ter the com­plaint was re­ceived from Punjab Na­tional Bank.

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