A special court for the Prevention of Money Laundering Act declared Vijay Mallya a proclaimed offender on Tuesday on a plea by the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the liquor tycoon in a money-laundering case.
The court had issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya on April 18 to secure his presence in the country. On Monday, the court sought to know the steps taken by the ED after the warrant was issued.
The agency had moved an application to declare Mallya, who fled the country on March 2, a proclaimed offender last week. “Please pass an order on the application for proclamation against Mallya so that the agency can approach the ministry of external affairs for a red-corner notice against him,” the advocate for the agency had told the court.
A red-corner notice is issued to seek the location and arrest of wanted people with a view to extradition or similar lawful action in a criminal case probe. Once the notice is issued, the Interpol seeks to arrest the person concerned in any part of the world and notifies that country to take his or her custody for further action at their end.
Mallya on Sunday accused Indian government agencies of deeming him “guilty without trial” and lambasted the country’s financial crime fighters for leading a “heavily biased” investigation against him.
The flamboyant 60-year-old beer baron left India in March for the UK, under hot pursuit from banks over loans granted to his collapsed carrier Kingfisher Airlines and yet to be repaid.
He 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.
In a rare statement, Mallya responded to reports that India’s federal investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, was taking further steps to probe him and the airline.
“It is, indeed, 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 that he had offered to appear before officials via video conference.
“It surely 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,” he said.
“Purely civil matters such as loan recovery are being connected with criminal allegations without any basis whatsoever.”