Mallya’s passport suspended, ED moves court for warrant
Rajya Sabha MP’s diplomatic passport suspended for 4 weeks, govt seeks his response
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.
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