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Did distributor send ₹95 crore to Vijay Mallya? Bombay HC seeks ED’s response

The petition was filed by a Pune-based organisation, Punekar Nagrik Kriti Samiti

mumbai Updated: Feb 09, 2018 09:49 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Vijay Mallya,Bombay high court
Mallya left India for the UK in March 2016.

The Bombay high court on Thursday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to a public interest litigation seeking a probe into purported help by a Mumbai-based super distributor of United Spirits to fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

The petition filed by a Pune-based organisation, Punekar Nagrik Kriti Samiti, alleged that four firms of the distributor helped Mallya siphon off at least Rs95.45 crore out of India.

A division bench of Justice SC Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre felt that allegations were serious and called for a proper inquiry by the ED. “We want the ED to find out what the petitioner says is true or not,” said the bench.

The lawyer representing the distributor said that all allegations were false and frivolous. My client has “absolutely no connection with that gentleman (Vijay Mallya)”, said the lawyer.

The bench said that it will not hesitate to take the petitioner to task if it finds that allegations are false. In such a scenario, the distributor will be entitled to proceed against the petitioner, it said. The petitioner said many organisations have pointed out the transaction, but no action has been taken against the distributor. Its counsel Subhash Jha said, “We have listed a number of cash transactions years after years and this money has gone to safe heavens,” said Jha.

The court has now posted the PIL for further hearing on February 23.

Mallya left India for the UK in March 2016. He is facing the extradition trial in the UK for laundering money and misusing loans worth Rs9,000 crore meant for his erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines. He has been resisting India’s extradition claim on several grounds.

The flamboyant businessman quit as non-executive chairman of United Spirits, controlled by UK-based Diego, in 2016. He left the board after Diego agreed to pay $75 million to him over five years.

First Published: Feb 09, 2018 09:49 IST