Beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya needs to appear in person in a special anti-money laundering court on Wednesday in connection with a case of alleged loan fraud or he may be declared a proclaimed offender.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai issued the proclamation on June 14 under Section 82 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) over Mallya allegedly diverting part of the loan to some of his offshore accounts.
The case is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates financial crimes, and is looking into Mallya’s role in the Rs 900 crore IDBI-Kingfisher Airlines loan case.
The agency said it needed to highly publicise the matter as the 60-year-old businessman has ignored “multiple” arrest warrants, including a non-bailable warrant under the PMLA, and has refused to return to India to face investigators and his creditors who want him to join the probe “in person.”
Mallya had left India on March 2 using his diplomatic passport. Four months later, he was spotted at a book launch in London, an appearance that caused much furore as the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, who was also present, walked out.
Under the law, a person can be termed a proclaimed offender in a criminal case if the court has reasons to believe that the accused has absconded or is concealing himself so that such a warrant cannot be executed. The accused has to appear at a specified place and at a specified time within 30 days of the date of publishing of the order.
If Mallya fails to keep the date, the probe agency will be able to seek further action. It also has the option to seek action under Section 83 of the CrPC and attach Mallya’s property, if he does not comply with proceedings initiated under Section 82.
So far, the agency has virtually exhausted all legal remedies like seeking an Interpol arrest warrant and getting his passport cancelled.
India even formally requested the UK government for his deportation, which is faster than the process of extradition under a treaty signed by the two countries. But Britain responded it couldn’t do so under its laws but can help with his extradition.
The ED registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI. It even attached his properties worth about Rs 1,411 crore under PMLA in this case.
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a notice against the controversial businessman on a plea seeking contempt proceedings alleging that Mallya has not given complete details of his assets to enable recovery of debt.
(With PTI inputs)