Mahesh Vijapurkar

The defaults and scams are big, if you look only at Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi. One is being tried for extradition in a London court, and about the other we don’t even know if the Indian law’s arms can reach him. There is no certainty that he has only an Indian passport which has been suspended for four weeks.

The sums taken out by both Mallya and Modi are huge indeed, and the investigations are stymied because one is in London, with Rs 16 lakh sustenance allowance per week as granted by the court from his frozen assets. His extradition is a work in progress but how he got there is the issue. Nirav Modi’s would expectedly start anytime.

The high-flying diamantaire who is suspected to have a Belgian passport, thus putting him at the likely fault of a dual citizenship. Media have only showed us the closed doors of his overseas apartments and listed those in Mumbai not used for quite a while. Even here, how did he get away even as the scam details began to erupt? These two cases point clearly to an inside tip off that helped them to flee. They are not coincidences. Mukul Rastogi, a top law officer of the Centre had told the Supreme Court last year that “He (Mallya) has left the country on March 2, the day we moved our application for impounding his passport.” That should point to a single fact: someone had tipped him off. Not only has Modi lammed it quietly but some of his as well as his uncle, Mukul Choksi’s bank accounts had hardly anything in left in them – the few lakhs are a pittance in comparison to the wealth they seem to have had. Some reportedly had a nil balance and one had a debt of a couple of crores. Accounts are cleaned out with a purpose.

There have been searches by enforcement agencies and claims of impounding diamonds and jewels worth over Rs 5,000 cr are being made. It is unclear if the agencies have their own assessor to value them overnight. If they cleaned up the accounts, why did they leave them behind as if they were mere baubles. The departure from the country even as the FIR was being filed indicates a clear inside job. It is now to be understood that if you are rich, with wealth accumulated even by fraudulent means, there is a crop of moles who are ready to help. The quite departures in the nick of time strengthens the suspicion. These departures have rendered the investigation difficult because they are not available. If otherwise, they would be in easy access to the law enforcing agencies or perhaps even in custody. The probes in India are inordinately longwinded by which witnesses can change their testimonies. The CBI, for instance, is not any organisation of saints either.

While how the mischiefs occurred is a matter of investigation, but what we normally ignore is finding out who the tipsters were to enable the high- profile to flee. Their fleeing takes the probe to a different inconvenient level because convincing a court in London or New York or Antwerp about their alleged crimes is a different cup of tea. While the enablers of the fraudulent Letters of Understanding and the lax system is one thing, the other is about who helped them to evade the arm of the law. This cannot and should not be ignored. Normally, you can accept a bet from me, these people remain unidentified. Leave alone punished.

From what level did the tip emanate? Was it a clerk who typed the FIR or was it someone higher? And from which office? Whoever, they are as culpable as others who enabled the fraud, the biggest in banking history of India. They cannot be left out, because their action has complicated the ‘normal course of the law’.