The government has requested United Kingdom authorities to deport liquor baron Vijay Mallya for investigation in a money laundering case, foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop said on Thursday.
The move comes two days after the troubled industrialist’s lawyers told the Supreme Court he was unlikely to come back to India as he feared arrest on arrival.
Mallya is facing proceedings in the top court by a consortium of 17 banks seeking repayment of over Rs 9,000 crore in loans to his now-collapsed Kingfisher Airlines.
In a separate case last week, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai issued a non-bailable warrant against Mallya after the enforcement directorate alleged the industrialist invested around half of a Rs 950 crore loan from IDBI bank – taken by his Kingfisher Airlines -- in properties outside the country.
Mallya left India in March, triggering outrage as he is under probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED for defaulting on loans taken by KFA.
“As of today, the ministry has written to the high commission of the UK in Delhi requesting the deportation of Sri Vijay Mallya so that his presence can be secured for investigations against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002,” Swaroop told journalists.
The move indicates the Centre is stepping up its efforts to get back Mallya, who has till date appeared unfazed by debt recovery pressure from banks and central probes.
But the deportation request will hinge on the UK’s response and the government is worried that Mallya’s case may go the same way as that of former IPL boss Lalit Modi, who managed to stay back in Britain despite corruption charges.
Mallya was pulled up by the Supreme Court on Tuesday for refusing to share details of foreign assets with banks and not providing a date for his appearance in court. The apex court ordered details of Mallya and his famly’s properties to be disclosed to banks, dismissing the industrialist’s argument that the assets weren’t acquired from the loans.
“The banks will pass on the information of his assets to the enforcement directorate. They have already revoked his passport and a warrant is issued against him. Banks do not want to settle with him but are keen to send him to jail,” the industrialist’s lawyers had told the court.