Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is in the United Kingdom, has been given time until 2 April to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the over Rs 900 crore IDBI Bank loan default case.
Mallya, who left the country on 2 March, days before the Supreme Court heard a plea by banks seeking recovery of the dues from his group firms, had on Thursday said that he would seek extension until April.ED had earlier issued summons to Mallya for "personal appearance" before it in Mumbai on March 18 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The tycoon's moved out of India has kicked up a controversy and political blame game between the ruling NDA and opposition parties. What made matters worse is the revelation that Mallya left the country despite a look out circular issued by the CBI.
The directive in the CBI circular, however, did not want Mallya to be detained even if he is seen flying out. The notice merely wanted the investigative agency to be informed of his move.
Media reports said the look out circular issued in November 2015 was amended to change the word 'detain' to 'inform'. The agency later said the first notice seeking his detention was sent by mistake.
A report in The Economic Times on Friday said the status of the CBI look out circular cannot be changed immediately since there are no criminal charges against Mallya yet.
In short, the report said, even if Mallya comes to India to appear before the ED, the CBI notice will continue to be "in the inform category", indicating he will be able to fly out easily as earlier.
In a related development, the government on Thursday made it clear that banks will recover every penny of loan of over Rs 9,000 crore given to his group firms. Mallya's net worth is estimated to be around Rs 7,000 crore.
"... His (Mallya's) facts are very clear. Every government agency, whether its taxation department or investigative agency, wherever he has violated law, is going to take strong action. As far as banks are concerned, they are going to recover every penny of the rupee that they can from him," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
The minister was answering questions at India Today Conclave in New Delhi on what the government was doing to recover money from Mallya.
In Mumbai, auction of Kingfisher House, once the headquarters of Mallya's defunct airline, proved to be a flop show today with no bids coming in, presumably due to litigation fears and a high reserve price of Rs 150 crore.
The auction of the property, with a built-up area of over 17,000 sq ft in Vile Parle area near domestic airport here, started at 1130 hrs and ended in about an hour with no success.
The ED had recently registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on a CBI FIR registered last year. The agency is also investigating the overall financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines and will look into any payment of kickbacks to secure loan.
The CBI had booked Mallya, the Chairman of Kingfisher Airlines, its Directors, former Chief Financial Officer of the airlines A Raghunathan and unknown officials of IDBI Bank in its FIR alleging that the loan was sanctioned in violation of norms regarding credit limits.