Updated: March 19, 2020 11:07:45 am
At least five of seven big businessmen summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Yes Bank probe have cited different reasons — personal and professional — for their inability to appear before the agency.
While Anil Ambani of Reliance and Kapil Wadhawan of DHFL skipped the summons on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, Subhash Chandra of Essel Group and Naresh Goyal of Jet Airways failed to appear before the agency on Wednesday. Sameer Gehlot of Indiabulls Housing Finance Ltd, summoned for appearance on Friday, has also written to the ED, expressing his inability to make it, sources said.
Anil Ambani cited “personal reasons” for his inability to appear before the ED on Monday, and has now been called Thursday.
Wadhawan and Gehlot both pointed to the threat of coronavirus and expressed their inability to travel and appear before the agency. In a communication to the ED, Gehlot said he was in the UK and all flights had been cancelled due to the coronavirus threat. Wadhawan had on Tuesday written to the ED that it was not advisable for him to travel due to the spread of virus.
According to sources in the ED, Naresh Goyal said he was tending to his sister who was suffering from cancer and hence could not honour the summons. He did not respond to messages sent by The Indian Express.
On his part, Subhash Chandra cited his commitment to attendance in the ongoing session of Parliament. He is a member of Rajya Sabha and was present in the House on Wednesday during a discussion on two pieces of legislation dealing with Unani medicines and homoeopathy.
On Monday, Chandra said he was willing to appear before the ED. Responding to a query from The Indian Express, the Essel Group had said, “Essel Group wishes to confirm that the Enforcement Directorate has requested Dr. Subhash Chandra’s presence on 18th March 2020, to make a statement on the information which is already available with them. Dr Chandra will certainly be present to make the statement and will be more than happy to extend any support or co-operation requested by ED.” He did not offer any comment on his non-appearance before the ED on Wednesday.
Wadhawan denied that he was not cooperating with the probe, and said the agency was in possession of all necessary documents and had questioned him at length when he was last in its custody. He was granted bail in another ED case involving DHFL on February 21.
ED sources, however, said, Wadhawan, had gone incommunicado and was not traceable. The agency is now preparing to get a non-bailable warrant issued against him for non-cooperation as he has ignored three summons so far.
“He did not appear on the given date and when the agency tried to reach him, he was not contactable. He is also not to be found at his known locations. We will move court for cancellation of his bail in due course,” an agency official said.
In his letter to ED on March 17, Wadhawan said, “I am apprehensive that a false record is being built to suggest that I am not co-operating with your investigation. I have repeatedly expressed my willingness to cooperate but would like to understand the basis on which I am now being summoned in relation to a matter which has been fully investigated (including while in your custody), complaint filed, cognizance taken and bail granted.”
ED is investigating two cases of money laundering against Wadhawan: one related to DHFL finances and the other related to the group’s dealings with firms owned by Rana Kapoor’s family. In his letter, Wadhawan denied the allegations.
The ED had summoned all five — along with Gautam Thapar (Avantha Group) and Peter Kerkar (Cox & Kings Group) — in connection with its probe into the affairs of Yes Bank where it has already arrested the bank’s promoter Rana Kapoor and has questioned his wife and daughters.
On March 10, The Indian Express reported that Yes Bank’s exposure to 10 corporate houses amounted to around Rs 34,000 crore. Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group has borrowings of around Rs 8,000 crore from Yes Bank, Wadhawan Group Rs 4,700 crore, IL&FS Group Rs 2,500 crore, Jet Airways Rs 1,100 crore, Kerkar Group (Cox & Kings) Rs 1,000 crore and Avantha Group Rs 500 crore.
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