Mallya’s pass­port sus­pended, ED moves court for war­rant

Ra­jya Sabha MP’s diplo­matic pass­port sus­pended for 4 weeks, govt seeks his re­sponse

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI/MUM­BAI: The govern­ment sus­pended Vi­jay Mallya’s pass­port and in­ves­ti­ga­tors sought a non-bail­able ar­rest war­rant against him on Fri­day, mount­ing pres­sure on the liquor baron to re­turn to In­dia and face a group of banks seek­ing Rs 9,400 crores of un­paid loans.

Ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­istry spokesper­son Vikas Swarup said Mallya’s pass­port was sus­pended for four weeks on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED), an agency that in­ves­ti­gates fi­nan­cial crime.

“If he fails to re­spond within the stip­u­lated time, it will be as­sumed that he has no re­sponse to of­fer and the MEA will go ahead with the re­vo­ca­tion (of the pass­port),” Swarup said.

Sources said Mallya will not be able to travel out of UK as a diplo­matic pass­port holder needs a com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the In­dian mis­sion.

Shortly af­ter the govern­ment de­ci­sion, the ED moved a spe­cial court in Mum­bai seek­ing a non-bail­able war­rant and a red-cor­ner no­tice against the 60-year-old Ra­jya Sabha MP, the agency’s lawyer Hiten Vene­gaonkar said.

Mallya, a flam­boy­ant busi­ness­man once known as the ‘king of good times’, left In­dia on March 2 as the cred­i­tor banks closed in on him to re­cover Rs 9,432 crores owed by his nowde­funct King­fisher Air­lines.

He ig­nored three sum­mons to ap­pear be­fore ED, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a case un­der the Pre­ven­tion of Money Laun­der­ing Act to trace Rs 950 crore loaned by the IDBI Bank to King­fisher Air­lines that stopped oper­a­tions in 2012. The ED case is likely to come up for hear­ing on Satur­day.

Mallya, be­lieved to be in the UK, said in a tweet ear­lier that he is not on the run and would abide by the law.

Of­fi­cials said that the sus­pen­sion of Mallya’s pass­port shows the govern­ment’s com­mit­ment “to bring to book wil­ful de­fault­ers and to re­cover pub­lic money from them.”

Mallya, how­ever, has the op­tion of first ap­peal­ing against the re­vo­ca­tion if the min­istry de­cides on it, be­sides look­ing at other le­gal routes.

The op­po­si­tion Congress was not im­pressed with the govern­ment’s ac­tion as it re­it­er­ated its al­le­ga­tion that the NDA govern­ment helped Mallya “es­cape” the country.

CON­TIN­UED ON P13

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