Banks given ₹9k-cr of seized assets, says ED
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has handed over ₹9,041.5 crore worth of assets, mostly in shares, to Indian banks that lost over ₹22,585.83 crore to bank fraud by three fugitive businessmen, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday, underlining that this implied the public sector banks have already recouped 40% of their losses in cases involving the three.
ED has already seized assets worth Rs. 18,170.02 crore, 80.45% of the total loss to banks in cases involving the three businessmen, and transferred a part of the attached or seized assets to the banks and the government, the statement said. This includes their properties worth ₹969 crore in foreign countries including the UK, the US, France and the UAE. India is also pursuing their extradition.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman responded to the ED announcement on Twitter. “Fugitives & economic offenders will be actively pursued; their properties attached & dues recovered,” she said.
Wednesday’s statement came after the Debt Recovery Tribunal, on behalf of the State Bank of India-led consortium, sold Vijay Mallya’s stake in United Breweries Limited for ₹5,824.50 crore.
Vijay Mallya left India in March 2016 after a clutch of banks got together to initiate proceedings to recover more than ₹9,000 crore from him, accusing him of wilful default. The UK high court last year ordered Mallya’s extradition and his request for permission to file an appeal in the UK Supreme Court has been turned down. But he is learnt to have applied for asylum there.
Diamantaire Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi face fraud charges in India in connection with their involvement in fraudulent transactions that led to losses of about ₹13,578 crore in the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB). They left the country in January 2018, weeks before the Central Investigation Bureau received a complaint from the bank about the fraud. Nirav Modi is fighting India’s attempt to seek his extradition from the United Kingdom, while Mehul Choksi is fiercely opposing an attempt to get him deported from Dominica, an island nation in the Caribbean, where he has been arrested for illegal entry.
Nirav Modi has been in a jail on the outskirts of London since March 2019; his repeated requests for bail have been rejected. In February this year, a UK magistrate’s court ordered Nirav Modi’s extradition. On Wednesday, he lost the first stage of his extradition appeal in the high court.
ED said that it unearthed the money trail by exposing a web of what it described as domestic and international transactions and stashing of assets abroad . The investigation revealed that the three used dummy entities controlled by them for rotation and siphoning off the funds provided by the banks, it said.
Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said ED has attached assets much more than the money that was allegedly due to the banks. “In this case, banks will recover more than 100% of the principal as well as interest”.
“However, for the people who have been declared fugitive, I have my doubts as to how will banks get the money as in fugitive economic offenders (FEO) act, there is no provision to give money to the victims and it is confiscated by the central government.”
Mallya’s lawyers could not be contacted.