Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate, or ED, which probes foreign exchange violations, has written to the ministry of external affairs asking it to revoke former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi’s passport, alleging non-cooperation with the agency’s investigation.
Early this week, ED had served Modi with a show-cause notice for not complying with the summons.
A summon requires a person to appear before the agency that issues it.
The enforcement agency wants to restrict Modi’s movement and bring him back to India for questioning in the IPL case. Modi is currently in London. The investigative agency plans to register a case against Modi under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which allows it to press criminal charges against an offender.
Under PMLA, the agency has the power to arrest a person if it has sufficient evidence to prove that money has been laundered.
“(We have) no first hand information about these developments, (we are getting information) through media reports only. We have not got anything directly addressed to or copied to us,” Modi’s lawyer Mohammed Abdi of Wadia Ghandy and Co. said in a text message answering Mint’s queries.
“Lalit Modi has been cooperating with the Enforcement Directorate in the best possible manner, through his...attorney and lawyers. Each and every summons has been timely responded to, all documents and explanations called for have been provided to the Enforcement Directorate,” he added.
Abdi explained that even the show-cause notice issued by ED to Modi on Tuesday had been replied to in full. “Even day before yesterday, Enforcement Directorate’s show-cause notice has been replied to in detail. We expect the Enforcement Directorate to decide about our reply to their show-cause notice first,” he said.
Suspension of someone’s passport, according to him, “was an extreme step which put personal liberty as stake… Thus, discretion is required. To hold (a) passport is a fundamental right.”
“Modi has been (cooperating), and will continue to cooperate with the Enforcement Directorate.”
Abdi went on to say that Modi was unable to be physically present for questioning on account of grave threat perception to his life, a fact that was apparently “well within the knowledge of agencies and the police”.
He also said his client was willing to cooperate and had repeatedly offered to be available to ED for questioning through video conferencing or presenting himself before the authorities in Indian high commission in London.
Last week, ED had issued a blue corner notice against Modi after he failed to appear before the department for questioning.
The notice said Modi is suspected to have “acquired potential foreign exchange outside India” and faces accusations related to the “contravention of Fema (Foreign Exchange Management Act)”.
A blue corner notice is an international alert to law-enforcement agencies to obtain information about a person’s activities.
This development comes a day after N. Srinivasan, secretary and president-elect of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, filed a criminal complaint against Modi with the Chennai police.
Srinivasan was acting on behalf of the board, which has accused Modi of misappropriation of Rs470 crore, mainly in allotting media rights and free commercial rights.