India court to disclose information of ‘fugitive’ Mallya’s assets to banks

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

India’s top court said today details of embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya’s assets would be shared with the banks chasing him over $1.34 billion (£920 million) in unpaid loans, despite his protestations the information should be kept private.

The Supreme Court said banks should be given details of Mallya’s overseas assets, as well as those of his wife and children, as India’s attorney general branded the absent entrepreneur a “fugitive from justice”.

The 60-year-old liquor baron, who is being pursued by a group of mostly state-run lenders over loans made to his collapsed carrier Kingfisher Airlines, left India on March 2 and is believed to be in Britain.

In an affidavit filed last week, Mallya, who is a non-resident Indian (NRI), said the banks had no right to demand information about his family’s overseas assets.

“The money involved belongs to banks. Mallya is playing hide and seek with banks and moreover he is a fugitive from justice,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing the lenders, told the Supreme Court.

Earlier this month the banks rejected an offer to repay $600 million (3411 million) and told the Supreme Court they wanted him to return to India so they could negotiate with him personally over the total owed.

It comes days after India’s government revoked Mallya’s passport after he failed to appear before investigators over a separate probe into the misuse of funds at Kingfisher Airlines.

A court has issued an arrest warrant for Mallya after he did not turn up for questioning at the Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency which is seeking his extradition.

That agency’s probe relates to loans which IDBI bank made to Kingfisher Airlines, despite allegedly knowing it was suffering financial troubles, and whether money was siphoned off—a charge Mallya’s UB Group denies.

Mallya inherited United Breweries Group from his father at the age of 28 and turned it into one of the world’s largest spirits makers, hosting extravagant parties with Bollywood stars and politicians along the way.

His profile rose further when he acquired a stake in the Force India F1 team and ownership of the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team.