Vijay Mallya case: London Court’s ruling in favour of Indian banks sends strong signal to global crooks

There is a world order for bringing back home criminals including white-collared to face trial. While deportation is a summary remedy which is difficult to obtain unless the fugitive’s travel documents can be challenged, extradition is the only remedy where the crook has valid residential permits like Vijay Mallya has in the UK.

Mallya thought he would be comfortably ensconced in his London outskirt home thumbing his nose at the clutch of Indian banks nursing unrecovered loans of close to Rs 10,000 crore together with interest. Crooks also stash away a substantial part of their Indian loot to salubrious bank and tax havens such as Switzerland, Cayman Islands, British Channel Islands, and Panama, etc either through subterranean hawala channels or through clever over-invoicing of imports for their companies and also through brazen fictitious payments to their international partners and abettors in crime.

Nemesis is at last catching up with Mallya. On 8 May 2018, a London court decisively ruled in favor of the harried Indian banks. Mallya had sought to challenge the registration of the Bangalore Debt Recovery Tribunal’s judgment in January 2017 that among other things imposed a worldwide freezing order that prevented him from removing — or diminishing — his assets in England and Wales. Mallya reportedly has assets worth $1.5 billion in the UK. It is worth recalling in this context that
Mallya had gotten $75 million from Diageo as parting amount out of which, he blithely explained away to an Indian court in 2016, $40 million were transferred to his three children. Obviously the Indian Banks know that it was a fraudulent preference.

File image of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya. PTI

File image of fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya. PTI

The international community has been at its wits’ end fighting the shenanigans of crooks and their friendly banks in tax havens. The US cracked the whip on Switzerland and got details of some 5,000 US citizens holding illicit accounts, but the Indian government has been waging a frustrating battle with the same Swiss government which has been hemming and hawing and wriggling out of its commitment to disclose the details of Indian crooks hiding their illicit funds in its banks.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the formidable world economic order fortunately has taken note of crooks and MNCs thumbing their noses at member governments through systematic tax avoidance on the back of base shifting and profit erosion techniques and other trickeries, with pliable governments winking at their shenanigans. It is this OECD resolve to fight international financial disorder that has made countries like Switzerland blush and contrite. The UK court has obviously taken a cue and read the riot act to Mallya.

Mallya and his ilk now have to face the imminent prospect of encore in other OECD countries. If all the countries refuse to give quarter to crooks, they would have nowhere to run for cover. Banking secrecy is fine, but if it has the effect of shielding international crooks from the long arm of their respective governments, the lid of secrecy should be blown open.

The UK court ruling in favor of Indian banks upholding international freeze order on Mallya’s assets should make the other fugitives like Nirav Modi of PNB infamy and Lalit Modi of IPL infamy squirm uncomfortably in their hideouts. Lalit Modi should be feeling the heat more because he is closer to the ground zero. Their dovecots have been sufficiently fluttered. The Narendra Modi government should now go for their jugular. Nirav Modi has been spotted in New York when Hong Kong ceased to be a safe hideout what with the Chinese government throwing dark hints that it is ready and willing to throw him out and hand him over to Indian authorities. Unfortunately for him he has probably only jumped from the fire to frying pan given the fact that like the Chinese, POTUS Trump is also no great respecter of international norms and laws----if requested he could also handover Modi to Indian authorities.

(The writerr is a senior columnist and tweets @smurlidharan)


Updated Date: May 09, 2018 10:56 AM

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