Vijay Mallya says no rationale in ED attaching properties

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Mumbai: UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya on Sunday said there is neither any rationale nor any legal basis for attaching his properties and the move is only making it more difficult for him to raise resources to pay the banks.

“There is no rationale nor any legal basis for the series of actions initiated by the ED (Enforcement Directorate) which is now making it more difficult to raise resources to pay the banks. Purely civil matters such as loan recovery are being connected with criminal allegations without any basis whatsoever,” Mallya said in a statement on Sunday.

On Saturday, ED had provisionally attached properties worth Rs.1,411 crore of business tycoon Mallya and his company United Breweries (Holding) Ltd in a case of alleged diversion of Rs.430 crore from an IDBI Bank Ltd loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd to purchase properties overseas.

Mallya, whose grounded Kingfisher Airlines owes over Rs.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.

ED had attached bank accounts of former beer baron Mallya worth Rs.34 crore under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The provisional attachment of eight immovable properties include an apartment in Bengaluru and Mumbai (2291 and 1300 sq. ft, respectively) each, an industrial plot in Chennai (4.5 acres), a coffee plantation plot in Coorg (28.75 acres), a residential and commercial constructed area in UB City and the Kingfisher Tower in Bengaluru (840,279 sq. ft).

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

“It surely appears as if these agencies are pursuing a heavily biased investigation and are already holding me guilty without trial after which I need to prove my innocence. Through all this I have still reached out to the banks asking them to nominate a committee to sit across the table and negotiate a one-time settlement with us,” Mallya said.

Mallya said most recent media reports and a tweet from the ED suggest that the ED have attached various properties belonging to himself and United Breweries (Holdings) which is a public company and not even the subject of any ED investigation. “The assets purportedly attached under PMLA date back to several years prior to the launch of Kingfisher Airlines,” Mallya said.