The Central Bureau of Investigation has decided to approach foreign governments to seek details of properties and investments held in other countries by embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya, accused of defaulting on a Rs 9,000 crore loan.
The CBI is preparing letter rogatories – legal request for assistance – and may approach the courts to get them served through the foreign ministry, the Times of India reported.
Mallya left the country on March 2 in spite of a CBI probe and legal proceedings against him, with attorney general Mukul Rohatgi telling the Supreme Court that he was likely headed for England.
The liquor baron has several properties in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Hong Kong, and the letter rogatories indicate the CBI is expanding its probe.
The development came a day after a parliamentary ethics panel began probing Mallya.
The tycoon – billed as the ‘king of good times’ for his flashy lifestyle – has said he wants to return to India but was afraid of a witch hunt.
But his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on a Rs 900 crore loan, allegedly in collusion with IDBI bank employees, triggering a CBI probe and a case by the Enforcement Directorate.
Last week, a consortium of 17 banks approached the Supreme Court SC to bar Mallya from leaving India, worried about the fate of their loans worth thousands of crores.
The court issued a notice to Mallya, seeking his personal appearance in the SC and impounding his passport, but by then, he had left India.
A debt-recovery tribunal order has barred him from touching the Rs 515 crore he received from liquor giant Diageo as settlement but the British company has said it already paid Mallya Rs 269 crore.
Banks owed money by Kingfisher Airlines have demanded “first right” to the Diageo cash, arguing that they were left with unpaid debts worth Rs 9,000 crore when the company collapsed more than three years ago.
But a combative Mallya didn’t back down, hitting out at the media and saying he didn’t do anything wrong.