ED faces setback in Lalit Modi investigation

Six months after agency sent LR, Singapore asks for specifics.

Written by Khushboo Narayan | Mumbai | Published:January 7, 2016 12:09 am
Lalit Modi, Lalit Modi IPL, IPL Lalit Modi, lalit modi row, lalit modi contreoversy, IPl, ipl news, lalit modi news, latest news Former commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi (Source: File)

Almost six months after the Enforcement Directorate sent a Letter Rogatory to Singapore seeking information about a 2009 deal between Sony’s Singapore-based subsidiary Multi Screen Media (MSMS) and World Sports Group (WSG), signed by former IPL chief Lalit Modi, the Singapore government has written to the agency asking it to submit the details of violations by the two companies before it parts with their records, sources in the agency said.

A Letter Rogatory (LR) is a request for assistance from an Indian court to a foreign court through the External Affairs Ministry. “The ED had asked for banking transactions of MSMS and WSG to investigate their links with Modi,” said an official who did not wish to be named.

The deal between MSMS and WSG, involving a Rs 425 crore facilitation fee, is key to the ED’s investigations against Modi under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). While the ED is hopeful that Singapore will assist with information, agency officials conceded that efforts to bring Modi to India appear to have hit a roadblock.

Last month, the Interpol sent a fifth set of questions to the ED pertaining to its request to issue a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against Modi. The global agency has questioned the legal validity of the PMLA proceeding against the ex-IPL chief.

Earlier, Interpol had asked ED to give its consent to share documents sent by the agency to the Interpol with Modi. ED has so far submitted contracts and documents that form the basis of its request to issue the RCN, documents pertaining to Modi’s passport revocation and copies of the agreements between MSMS, WSG and the BCCI, among others.

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While ED is of the opinion that Interpol has overreached its mandate, it cannot do much but submit its reply to the fresh set of questions, said an official. “Interpol has no locus standi in asking for details of the investigation once a request for RCN is submitted,” he added.

Apart from the RCN, the ED’s request for initiating extradition proceedings against Modi is still pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs. “On November 13, we had moved the MHA for initiating the process but we are yet to hear from the ministry. We cannot approach a court and get an extradition order against Modi till MHA approves our request,” said the official.

Another senior ED official said the adjudication of cases pertaining to Modi under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) has also been stalled. Modi, the official said, has moved the Bombay High Court against the adjudication proceedings initiated by the department. The ED has received a notice from the high court and the case will come up for hearing later this month.

So far, the ED has registered 16 cases against Modi. Of these, 15 are under provisions of FEMA and one under PMLA. The FEMA cases, according to the ED, are at different stages of adjudication. The case under PMLA against Modi is based on a criminal complaint filed by the BCCI in 2010 in Chennai, accusing him of misappropriation of funds during his tenure as IPL chief.

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