ED moves special court to declare Vijay Mallya a proclaimed offender

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Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday moved a petition in a Mumbai court asking it to declare UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya a proclaimed offender, as part of its efforts to bring the businessman back from the UK, an official from the agency said.

ED suspects Mallya diverted Rs.430 crore from an IDBI Bank Ltd loan to his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd to purchase properties overseas.

“We have moved a special court in Mumbai—the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Court—with additional submissions to declare Mallya as a proclaimed offender. This is in continuation of our efforts to bring back Mallya to India,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

A court can declare a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued a proclaimed offender if it feels that the person is absconding. The offender is then required to appear at a specified place and time within 30 days. The court can also order the attachment of any property belonging to the concerned person to force him to turn up.

ED, a specialized financial investigation agency under the ministry of finance enforcing PMLA and Foreign Exchange Management Act, is investigating alleged money laundering by Mallya.

The businessman, whose grounded Kingfisher Airlines owesRs.9,000 crore in loans and interest to creditors led by State Bank of India (SBI), left for the UK on 2 March as lenders closed in.

“The PMLA court is expected to give its order on the new submission on 13 June,” the official added.

The fresh submissions come at time when several investigative agencies are tightening the screws on Mallya.

SBI filed four interlocutory applications on 2 March seeking Mallya’s arrest, impounding of his passport, disclosure of all assets and liabilities and stopping the $75 million payout by Diageo Plc., Mint reported on 2 March.

The service tax department has put out an advertisement for the sale of Mallya’s corporate jet, whose registration number famously bore his initials, VT-VJM, Mint reported on 24 March. The auction is intended to recover Rs.370 crore in dues and penalties.

In an interview to the Financial Times on 29 April, Mallya said he was in “forced exile” and that reporting by the Indian media had turned public opinion against him.