Agencies get proof linking Vijay Mallya with Deepak Talwar

​​Talwar, who’s been detained in a corruption case, had “lobbied” for Mallya and the two were “very close”.

Agencies
Mallya, declared a fugitive economic offender in India, is fighting extradition proceedings in the UK. Banks say he owes them in excess of Rs 9,000 crore after loan defaults by Kingfisher Airlines.
NEW DELHI: Investigative agencies have uncovered messages allegedly exchanged between fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya and lobbyist Deepak Talwar establishing close links between the two, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Talwar, who’s been detained in a corruption case, had “lobbied” for Mallya and the two were “very close”, said one of persons. These messages include attempts to dissuade the Bihar government from implementing a liquor ban, expressions of concern over probable inclusion of Airbus in the Kingfisher loan scandal probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the release of a statement to the media after Mallya left for London in 2016, said the people cited above. The messages took the form of emails and SMSes between Mallya and Talwar as well as their associates, they said.

Messages on the liquor ban in Bihar involved executives of United Spirits, then owned by Mallya, and Talwar’s company Deepak Talwar Associates (DTA). The correspondence, which ET has seen, was obtained by the CBI and income tax officials and has been put on the record in court by them to establish that Talwar lobbied for Mallya.


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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has charged Talwar, extradited from Dubai this year, with receiving kickbacks of Rs 272 crore while acting as a middleman to illegally secure favourable air traffic rights for foreign airlines in 2008-09 at the cost of national carrier Air India by liaising with several government functionaries.

The ED had in February verbally informed the court about a connection between Talwar and Mallya. One of Talwar’s associates sought data from United Spirits about the “human cost of the proposed ban” in a December 4, 2015, email with the title “Presentation for interaction with Bihar government.” Subsequent emails discuss lining up meetings with the state chief minister and chief secretary to lobby against prohibition, which the state eventually implemented.
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“Talwar had lobbied for Vijay Mallya and UB Group,” said one of the persons cited above. “The fee charged for the services provided to the UB (United Breweries) Group has not been disclosed by Deepak Talwar in his income tax return(s).”

United Spirits, now owned by Diageo, was part of the UB Group. The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government had said in November 2015 that alcohol would be banned in the state from April 1, 2016.

Mallya, declared a fugitive economic offender in India, is fighting extradition proceedings in the UK. Banks say he owes them in excess of Rs 9,000 crore after loan defaults by Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya says he has offered to settle with the banks and that he wouldn’t get a fairtrial in India, where he’s wanted for questioning over allegations of money laundering and loan fraud.

AIRBUS-KFA DEALS
An SMS sent by Mallya on March 22, 2016, read: “DT- need net statement of account from Airbus asap.” The agencies believe that DT stood for Deepak Talwar. Further, emails exchanged between the duo over probable inclusion of Airbus and IDBI in the Kingfisher bank loan case have been relied upon by the agencies to establish proximity between Mallya and Talwar.
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An email from one Sumanto Bhattacharya to Mallya on March 15, 2016, shared a newspaper article that said the CBI wanted to make Airbus a party in the IDBI-Kingfisher loan case. The article said that a letter rogatory (LR) would be sent to France to obtain details of Airbus deals with Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines.

The CBI would probe whether the bank sent money directly to Airbus as part of the carrier’s deal with the aircraft manufacturer and whether some of this was diverted to Mallya’s intermediary to be siphoned off to tax havens. Mallya is said to have shared another newspaper article with Talwar on October 26, 2015, headlined “IDBI officials failed to alert on Kingfisher airlines loan: CBI.”
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Mallya even forwarded a letter to be sent to a CBI official to Talwar on December 2, 2015. Mallya rued the fact that despite several attempts he had been unable to fax the letter to one Suman Kumar at the CBI. The email underscored the urgency of handing over a signed copy of the letter to the official at the earliest.

Mallya also shared another newspaper article with Talwar on March 4, 2016, titled “CBI probing Mondelez India on US request.” Five days after Mallya left for London, he emailed Talwar on March 7, 2016, sending him a “media statement” on the issue of bank loan default and departure to the UK.

It began: “The past few days have witnessed a near hysterical campaign in the media directed against me. Recognising that the media was indulging in sensationalism, I thought it was best to let the drama play out--never spoil a sensational story with the truth.”
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