India on Thursday asked global policing authority Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant against Vijay Mallya in an attempt to close all escape doors for the heavily indebted liquor baron once hailed as the ‘king of good times’.
India’s move came a day after the government revealed that Britain has turned down a request to deport the former Rajya Sabha member who left the country in March owing more than Rs 9,000 crore in unpaid loans to several banks. However, Britain said it will consider a request for extradition.
A CBI source said the agency has forwarded a request from the Enforcement Directorate seeking an Interpol ‘red corner notice’ (RCN), which is meant to “seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action”.
The ED, which probes financial crimes, wants to question Mallya, 60, in a money-laundering case related to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines. The agency says Mallya diverted nearly half of a Rs 950-crore bank loan to acquire properties abroad.
Money-laundering is a crime in both India and the UK.
A special court earlier issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Mallya, who ignored three ED summons to appear for questioning. The government also suspended the diplomatic passport of the flamboyant businessman, known for his flashy parties attended by fashion models and Bollywood celebrities.
The CBI, which is Interpol’s nodal agency in India, is also probing Mallya’s loan defaults since July last year and grilled him thrice before he left India.
Mallya said in a recent interview that he was in “forced exile” and called the charges against him “preposterous”.
The request for the RCN is among a set of measures the ED is set to take up to bring back Mallya. The agency is likely to make a fresh request to the external affairs ministry seeking his extradition and attachment of his property in India, said an ED source.