A special PMLA court in Mumbai on Wednesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to send a Letter of Request (LR) to the British government for execution of a non-bailable warrant against former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and his transfer to India for facing probe in a money laundering case. The ED, in its application filed on November 8, prayed the court for issuing LR for the execution of NBW against Modi. The agency sought necessary steps to be taken by the competent authorities in the UK for locating him. Stating that the ED had not been able to execute the non-bailable warrant against Lalit Modi since he is reportedly in the UK, the agency said they “badly need him” to conduct further investigation.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court on Wednesday allowed the prayer. “The LR order will now be sent to the External Affairs Ministry, which will forward it to the competent authority in England for further action,” said special ED counsel Hiten Venegoankar. The agency is probing the case against Lalit Modi in connection with a 2008 deal between World Sports Group (WSG) and Multi Screen Media (MSM) for television rights worth Rs 425 crore for the Indian Premier League.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had registered a case in Chennai in connection with the 2008 deal. This was followed by a case by the ED. So far, three LRs have been issued against Modi by the same court to authorities in Singapore, Mauritius and UAE.
The court had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against the high-profile former IPL boss, believed to be in the UK, on August 6 last year. In 2008, after BCCI awarded IPL media rights for 10 years to WSG for USD 918 million, the WSG entered into a deal with Multi Screen Media to make latter’s television channel Sony the official broadcaster of IPL.
While BCCI alleged irregularities and breach of contract in this deal, ED started a probe in 2009 under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) to investigate allegations that payment of Rs 425 crore towards facilitation fee by MSM-Singapore to WSG Mauritius was made in illegal manner.
The ED had earlier made a similar bid to bring back Vijay Mallya, chairman of Kingfisher Airlines, through the Ministry of Home Affairs but had faced a legal hurdle. The MHA, the nodal agency to process MLAT requests on criminal cases, had informed the ED that the MHA “does not undertake service of non-bailable warrants of arrest under MLAT”.
An ED official said the request had therefore been made through the court.
“If the court allows the application, it will be sent to the Ministry of External Affairs in India to the foreign ministry in UK to be forwarded to the local court, as is the process under MLAT,” said advocate Hiten Venegaonkar, counsel for the ED.
(With PTI inputs)