ED moves court to de­clare Mallya a fugi­tive, seeks to freeze as­sets

In­ves­tiga­tive agency files for con­fis­ca­tion of prop­er­ties worth about ₹12,500 crore

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - P Suchetana Ray Vi­jay Mallya

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: The En­force­ment Direc­torate (ED) has moved court against Vi­jay Mallya to de­clare the busi­ness­man a “fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender.” It’s the first in­stance of the agency seek­ing to get a sus­pect in an eco­nomic of­fence de­clared a fugi­tive af­ter the pro­mul­ga­tion of the Fugi­tive Eco­nomic Of­fend­ers Or­di­nance in April.

Once he is de­clared a fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender, ED, which in­ves­ti­gates vi­o­la­tions of for­eign ex­change rules and money laun­der­ing, will be able to freeze as­sets di­rectly or in­di­rectly held by Mallya such as be­nami prop­er­ties, or as­sets held in an­other per­son’s name or a fic­ti­tious name.

ED, which filed the ap­pli­ca­tion in a spe­cial court in Mumbai, said the “es­ti­mated value of prop­er­ties pro­posed for con­fis­ca­tion is to the tune of ₹12,500 crore ap­prox­i­mately, which in­cludes im­mov­able prop­er­ties as well as mov­able prop­er­ties in the form of shares.”

Mallya, a former liquor baron, flew out of In­dia to Lon­don in March 2016 as creditors of his King­fisher Air­lines ze­roed in on him to re­cover more than ₹9,000 crore of dues owed by the de­funct air­line.

ED claimed hat Mallya “was alien­at­ing his as­sets by dis­pos­ing of the prop­er­ties held in the name of the com­pa­nies which were in­di­rectly con­trolled by him and also was get­ting funds out­side In­dia by way of hav­ing a deal with Di­a­geo Plc.”

Mallya flew to Lon­don within days of sign­ing a $75 mil­lion dolhe lar sweet­heart deal with Di­a­geo, un­der which he agreed to re­sign as non-ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of United Spir­its Ltd, a com­pany once con­trolled and which was ac­quired by the Bri­tish spir­its maker.

As per the process, the court will now is­sue sum­mons to Mallya to ap­pear be­fore it, and he will be de­clared a “fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender” if he fails to turn up.

A “fugi­tive eco­nomic of­fender” is a sus­pect who has fled In­dia to avoid fac­ing crimi- nal pros­e­cu­tion for an of­fence that is to the tune of more than ₹100 crore and in­volves de­fraud­ing creditors and money laun­der­ing, among other crimes.

In its ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the court, ED said Mallya “had no in­ten­tion to re­pay the loans from the start and though he and Ms UBHL (United Brew­eries Hold­ings Lim­ited) had sub­stan­tial as­sets that were suf­fi­cient to re­pay the loans, they in­ten­tion­ally with­held the de­tails from the banks.”

The agency said that it had al­ready at­tached as­sets of Mallya worth ₹8,040 crore for money laun­der­ing.

ED has filed two charge sheets against Mallya for de­fault­ing on loans owed to IDBI Bank and a con­sor­tium of creditors led by State Bank of In­dia. Based on the ED ac­tion, non­bail­able war­rants have been is­sued against Mallya.

Top ED of­fi­cials said on con­di­tion of anonymity that the agency will now move court against jewellers Ni­rav Modi and his un­cle Me­hul Choksi to get them de­clared as fugi­tive of­fend­ers.

The two, who are also abroad, are the main sus­pects in a ₹14,000 crore fraud at Pun­jab Na­tional Bank.

AFP/FILE

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