Vijay Mallya suffers setback as SC refuses to stay ED proceedings to declare him fugitive economic offender

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on industrialist Vijay Mallya's plea challenging the ongoing proceedings in a Mumbai court to declare him fugitive economic offender.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul sought the probe agency's response on the plea against the ongoing trial before a special court under the money laundering Act.

The ED moved the special court seeking to declare the London-based industrialist a fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offender Act 2018.

File photo of Vijay Mallya. Reuters

File image of Vijay Mallya. Reuters

The apex court issued notice on Mallya's plea but refused to stay the proceedings before the Mumbai special court.

The Bombay high court recently dismissed Mallya's appeal. The industrialist has filed an appeal against the high court order.

In September, the liquor baron had told the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court that “he was not a fugitive economic offender” and not involved in the scheduled offence of money laundering. Mallya on Thursday approached the Supreme Court after the Bombay high court and PMLA court rejected his plea, reported Hindustan Times

In a surprise move, Mallya on Wednesday took to social media with an offer to pay back 100 percent of "public money" to various Indian banks and urged the government to accept his offer, days ahead of a UK court's decision on his plea not to extradite him to India

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail in the UK on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering allegedly amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores

A ruling in the case is expected at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on 10 December, but the businessman stressed that the extradition issue was a "separate" matter which will take its "own legal course"

"The most important point is public money and I am offering to pay 100 per cent back. I humbly request the banks and government to take it. If payback refused, why," he questioned in one of his posts on Twitter

In reference to some Indian media reports claiming that his offer is linked to an expected ruling in the extradition case on December 10, he added: "Usual nonsense! I have made settlement offers since 2016."

After weeks of silence, Mallya shot off a series of tweets since the early hours of Wednesday to defend the loans he had acquired from various banks as a means of keeping his now-defunct Kingfisher Airline afloat

"Airlines struggling financially partly because of high ATF prices. Kingfisher was a fab airline that faced the highest ever crude prices of USD 140/barrel. Losses mounted and that's where banks money went. I have offered to repay 100 percent of the principal amount to them. Please take it," reads one of his posts

Making a reference to his liquor group United Breweries, Mallya said that "India's largest alcoholic beverage group" had contributed "thousands of crores" to the state exchequer over the years

"Kingfisher Airlines also contributed handsomely to the states. Sad loss of the finest Airline but still I offer to pay Banks so no loss. Please take it," he said

In a further lament against the Indian government and media, he adds: "Politicians and the media are constantly talking loudly about my being a defaulter who has run away with PSU Bank money. All this is false. Why don't I get fair treatment and the same loud noise about my comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. Sad."

Mallya's tweets came hours after alleged AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel was brought to India from Dubai, the first successful extradition since India initiated similar proceedings against alleged economic offenders like Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi

Mallya is fighting his extradition from the UK to India in a trial which opened in London on 4 December last year. The UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, has attempted to lay out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya and establish there are no bars to him being extradited to face Indian courts over the allegations relating to loans made out to erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines

In separate legal proceedings, the businessman had lost an appeal in the UK's Court of Appeal earlier this year against a UK high court order in favour of 13 Indian banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds.

The banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), have since been pursuing ways of recouping the debt as part of a worldwide freezing order. In one of the most recent orders in the case last week, they had acquired the court's permission to pursue any surplus funds from the sale of a luxury yacht formerly owned by Mallya.

With agency inputs


Updated Date: Dec 07, 2018 12:53 PM

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