Vijay Mallya declared ‘proclaimed offender’

Vijay Mallya is under investigation
Vijay Mallya is under investigation

Beleaguered Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya was on Tuesday (14) declared a proclaimed offender by a special Indian court after a plea by an investigating agency over an alleged bank loan default.

India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) moved the court to issue an order and term the liquor baron a proclaimed offender as he has “multiple” arrest warrants pending against him, including a non-bailable warrant (NBW) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

“The ED application is allowed and proclamation is issued against Vijay Mallya,” ordered special judge PR Bhavke in Mumbai.

Mallya left India in March for the UK, under hot pursuit from banks over $1.34 billion in loans granted to his collapsed carrier Kingfisher Airlines and yet to be repaid.

The flamboyant 60-year-old beer baron has repeatedly failed to appear before investigators at the Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency, who suspect him of misusing funds loaned by a state bank.

The agency informed the Mumbai court about investigations in the case and the need to get Mallya to cooperate with the investigation.

The ED has sought to invoke the India-United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to extradite Mallya from Britain. The agency registered a money-laundering case against Mallya and others based on an complaint last year by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The directorate wants Mallya to join investigation “in person” in its PMLA investigation against him and others over the alleged loan fraud.

In a rare statement, Mallya responded to reports that the CBI, was taking further steps to probe him and the airline.

“It is sad and disappointing that the thousands of documents submitted by us and interrogation of several executives seems insufficient to convince them there has been no wrongdoing,” he said.

“I have maintained and continue to maintain that there has been absolutely no misappropriation or diversion of funds and strenuously deny any allegation to the contrary.”

Mallya rejected reports he had refused to go before the Enforcement Directorate, which has issued three summons for his appearance, but said he had simply sought time to sell assets to pay employees, tax authorities and the banks.

He added he had offered to appear before officials via video conference. “It appears as if these agencies are pursuing a heavily biased investigation and are already holding me guilty without trial after which I need to prove my innocence.

“Purely civil matters such as loan recovery are being connected with criminal allegations without any basis whatsoever,” he said.

In an interview with a national newspaper in April, Mallya said he was prepared to settle millions of dollars owed to banks but had no plans to leave Britain.

A former MP, he resigned from his seat in the parliament’s upper house ahead of a likely expulsion over his huge debt defaults.