After a special court in Mumbai declared the embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya as a fugitive economic offender on January 5, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has started compiling a list of his properties, worth over Rs 1,200 crore and shares worth Rs 11,000 crore, for confiscation. Mallya is the first businessman to be tagged so under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
The fugitive economic offender tag to Mallya empowers investigating agencies to seize assets of the fugitive liquor baron across India. These assets include his properties in Mumbai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Tamil Nadu. His two biggest properties, including 3.09-lakh square ft UB City area and Kingfisher Tower properties, are considered to be worth over Rs 2,000 crore. He also owns shares in multiple companies including United Breweries, United Spirit and McDowell Holdings. The ED is also planning to file a supplementary application to seize Mallya's properties outside the country, the Economic Times quoted a senior official as saying. The probing agencies have already attached Mallya's benami and proxy assets, whose cumulative value is being calculated, the daily added. The Mallya's lawyers in India are likely to challenge the special court order.
Mallya had managed to escape to the United Kingdom in March 2016, allegedly by taking advantage of the dilution in a CBI lookout notice against him. The PMLA court decision comes 25 days after a UK court decided that Mallya can be extradited back to India for his involvement in alleged loan fraud here. He is now wanted here for charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore. The matter of Mallya's extradition now rests with the Secretary of State Sajid Javid who will decide to agree or disagree with the verdict.
However, Mallya and his lawyers have time and again said that though he was ready to pay the debt, and that it's the Indian government and the probe agencies, which are working as part of a politically motivated agenda. Mallya last month said he had "placed 14K crores worth of assets in front of Court as the ED and Banks (both under Government control) are fighting over the same assets." He had also claimed that it was not he who defrauded banks but the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines." Money was lost due to a genuine and sad business failure. Being held as guarantor is not fraud," he said.
Meanwhile, the order on the confiscation of Mallya's properties has been reserved for February 5, following which, if the court order goes against Mallya, the government will manage his assets under Rule 4 of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
Edited by Manoj Sharma