An anti-corruption court in Mumbai on Saturday declared Vijay Mallya a 'fugitive economic offender'. The ex-liquor baron has become the first person to be charged under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, the new anti-fraud law.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court was hearing an application by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking to declare Mallya — who is in the UK — a fugitive and to allow his properties to be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government as per the provisions of the new Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, (FEO Act).
The order means the ED can now confiscate Mallya's assets, whether or not they are proceeds of the crime he is being charged with. India Today reported that the ED can also confiscate the assets of Mallya's companies and his personal assets in the United Kingdom.
Special judge MS Azmi declared Mallya an FEO under Section 12 of the Act after hearing extensive arguments from the lawyer of Mallya and the ED counsel. The court also refused Mallya's application to stay the order to give him some time to appeal.
Earlier, a UK court ordered Mallya's extradition. After the UK court's extradition order on 10 December, the External Affairs Ministry on 20 December said the Indian mission there is in "active touch" with British authorities regarding the case. He has filed an appeal in a UK court against the extradition order.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss has been on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year. He has contested his extradition on the grounds that the case against him is "politically motivated" and the loans he has been accused of defrauding on were sought to keep his now-defunct airline afloat.
"I did not borrow a single rupee. The borrower was Kingfisher Airlines. Money was lost due to a genuine and sad business failure. Being held as guarantor is not fraud," he said in his recent Twitter post on the issue.
"I have offered to repay 100 percent of the principal amount to them. Please take it," the flamboyant businessman tweeted earlier. He had even submitted an application in the Karnataka High Court to that effect.
The banks had earlier rejected this offer but Business Today reports that now the consorrtium of banks are considering recovering loans by the sale of Mallya's assets. The document seen by Business Today states, "In so far as assets belonging to the appellants (UBHL) are concerned, the same may be sold/disposed of expeditiously in accordance with the directions of this Hon'ble court and proceeds thereof may be released in favour of the respondents (banks) on priority."
Mallya, accused of defaulting on loan repayments and money laundering, had left India in March 2016.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 05, 2019 16:00:15 IST