The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is going all out to force Lalit Modi to appear before the agency to proceed with further investigation into the long-pending money laundering case.
According to sources, the ED is likely to issue second and last round of summons to Modi in next couple of days. But this time, they are planning to send summons to Modi’s offices in India and not via email or his counsel. The agency is also mulling over an option of publishing the summons in newspapers.
“His (Modi’s) presence is required for the investigation. Since he is out of the country, summons could also be published in newspapers.”
The move comes after its earlier summons sent via e-mails failed to draw any reply from Modi. Before the email, summons were also served to Modi’s legal team for compliance, who duly returned them claiming they were not authorised to receive them.
Modi also made a similar claim through a tweet on July 6. “I have received no summons. They know where I live in London. Awaiting the same,” he had tweeted.
According to the sources, the second summons will be the last chance for Modi to come clean. This will be a reminder notice to get all the 14 information, sought by the agency in the previous summons.
These include details of bank accounts held by Modi and his family in India and abroad. It also comprise the entire description of movable and immovable properties in India and overseas, and brief details of his companies.
Earlier summon also sought the details of transaction with Aakash Arora and his company Netlinkblue, accused in Rs 3.5-crore ‘kickback’ in importing Modi’s aircraft.
He also needs to give details of financial transactions between World Sports Group (WSG), in connection with the deal between WSG and Multi Screen Media (MSM) for television rights of IPL worth Rs 425 crore. What is sought by the ED also include copies of bids submitted by various parties for exploiting free commercial time during IPL matches, tender for IPL, among others.
A senior ED official said, “In case of non-compliance of summons, a non-bailable warrant can be issue against the accused.”
BCCI had registered an FIR in Chennai in 2010 under various provisions of IPC, while two years later ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money laundering Act (PMLA) regarding the deal.
Under the provision of PMLA, a person convicted in a money-laundering case can face imprisonment of up to seven years.
Early this week, the special court for PMLA had issued letters rogatory (LR) to Singapore and Mauritius in connection with the same case. A letter rogatory is a formal request from a court in India to a foreign court for judicial assistance.
However, LRs have not reached the respective destination countries yet. These are being sent through Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which is still under process and can take up to two months.
Through LR, the information related to Modi’s bank accounts can be sought, said ED officials. The agency is also keen to get information on the ‘memorandum of incorporation’ of the 2008 agreement and to record the statements of three facilitators – Venu Nair, Seamous O’Brain and Andrew Gerogiou – of the agreement between WSG and BCCI.
According to sources, during ED officials’ four-day trip to Singapore early this month, the legal authorities of Singapore had given a ‘verbal assurance’ of complete legal support in the case, once the LR reaches their hand.
ED officials suspect that Modi had diverted his “beneficiary” amount from MSM-Singapore to WSG Mauritius and again from Mauritius to Singapore bank accounts, managed by Modi’s dummy companies.
In 2008, BCCI awarded a 10-year media right to WSG for $918 million. WSG entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced a year later with a nine-year deal where MSM paid $1.63 billion.
The ED started a probe in 2009 under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate allegations that payment of Rs 425 crore facilitation fee by MSM Singapore to WSG Mauritius was made in an illegal way.
In February this year, ED slapped a Rs 425-crore show-cause notice on BCCI, IPL, their officials and the private multimedia firms for alleged contravention of forex laws in awarding media rights.