CBI questions former Kingfisher, UB Group CFOs

NEW DELHI,DEVESH K. PANDEY: The CBI on Tuesday questioned former Chief Financial Officers of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines and the UB Group in the case of the alleged Rs. 900-crore loan default by the company to IDBI.

Former Kingfisher Airlines CFO A. Raghunathan is an accused along with businessman Vijay Mallya in the case registered by the CBI. The bank had, following his letters citing Mr. Mallya’s meetings with top bank officials, sanctioned short-term loans of Rs.150 crore and Rs.200 crore to the airline in October-November 2009. The CBI had earlier questioned him.

Apart from Mr. Raghunathan, former UB Group CFO Ravi Nedungadi — who took voluntary retirement from service a few days ago — was quizzed by the CBI on Tuesday.

The development comes days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned and examined Mr. Nedungadi, Mr. Raghunathan, former IDBI chairman-cum-managing director Yogesh Agarwal and others in connection with the allegations of money laundering.

While the CBI had suo motu registered the case in the matter of the IDBI, the agency earlier said the 17 other banks to which Kingfisher Airlines owed over Rs. 9,000 crore had not filed any complaint seeking criminal action and therefore, no case could be registered in those matters.

However, the CBI now plans to expand the ambit of investigations to include all the alleged wilful default matters pertaining to Kingfisher Airlines. The agency is also preparing to approach the court to get letters of judicial requests issued to foreign jurisdictions to gather information on the overseas assets of Mr. Mallya and Kingfisher Airlines. Several properties, located in the United Kingdom, the United States and South Africa, are under scrutiny.

ED considers legal action
For its part, the ED is contemplating legal action in case Mr. Mallya fails to appear on March 18. In case he does not respond to the Directorate’s summons, the agency may seek issuance of a non-bailable warrant or revoking of his travel documents to facilitate deportation for questioning.