Former Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar had disclosed in Parliament last March that as many as 31 business people facing a CBI investigation had flown the coop, including many that had defaulted on bank loans. The list not only includes current headline-hoggers like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya, but also long-forgotten names like Pushpesh Kumar Baid and Ashish Jobanputra.
In an attempt to step up proactive vigilance and put a check on wilful defaulters-turned-wannabe fugitives, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has reportedly issued a look-out circular (LOC) with the names of over 20 people suspected of economic offences. Sources told the Business Standard that the list includes Naresh Goyal, the promoter of the now-grounded Jet Airways. The MCA has even requested help from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to ensure that the names on the list aren't able to flee the country.
A LOC is a letter used by authorities to keep a tab on an individual. Immigration authorities at all airports and entry-exit points across the country will have to inform the CBI if the said individual tries to enter or leave India. Previously only the likes of the CBI, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Research and Analysis Wing, designated officers of Interpol and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were empowered to place a request for the issuance of LOC place a request for the issuance of LOC. But in November, the government also empowered CEOs of public sector banks (PSBs) to request for issuance of LOCs against suspects, even before enforcement agencies file FIRs against them.
Sources told the daily that the MCA list also includes some of the individuals involved in two ongoing high profile investigations, including the one at the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and ED have been probing the debt-ridden infrastructure financing giant for financial mismanagement, money laundering and other irregularities. Similarly, the Registrar of Companies recently filed prosecution complaints against four companies of Deepak Kochhar, husband to former ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar.
In February, the CBI had issued look out circulars against the Kochhars as well as Videocon Managing Director Venugopal Dhoot in the ICICI Bank-Videocon corruption case. LOCs typically have a validity of a year as per a notification by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
On Saturday, due to the LOC issued against him, Goyal and his wife, Anita, were stopped from leaving the country by immigration authorities at Mumbai airport minutes before their aircraft was about to take off for London via Dubai.
With PTI inputs