The Enforcement Directorate's ( ED) efforts to have liqour baron Vijay Mallya extradited from the UK received a boost when a Mumbai court declared him a 'proclaimed absconder' on Tuesday. According to the source in the ED, the declaration will streamline the process of his extradition.
"The court declared Mallya a 'proclaimed absconder', which it will help in the process of bringing him back to the country. We now have a court order that declares him an absconder," said an ED officer, who did not wish to be named.
ED officials said they hope the UK government takes this seriously. "Bringing back such an offender depends on the political will of the country (UK) to extradite him. Technically, we are on a better footing now as a court has declared him an absconder," the officer added.
Another ED officer said this also means that Mallya will have one more chance to appear before the Indian authorities. "He ( Mallya) has one more opportunity to present himself in 30 days, failing which the government can attach his properties. The ED has already attached some properties pertaining to the IDBI Bank loan case. In this case, the total outstanding principal loan amount of Rs 807 crore is considered to be proceeds of crime and we have attached properties worth Rs 1,411 crore," said the officer.
The ED's investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) revealed that IDBI Bank sanctioned a loan of Rs 864 crore for Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (KAL), for which the collateral was the Kingfisher brand, a corporate guarantee from United Brewaries (Holding) Limited and a personal guarantee from Mallya. Of this, Rs 807 crore remains unpaid.
"The corporate loan was sanctioned and disbursed despite weak financials, negative networth, low credit rating of the borrower company, and despite the fact that KAL, as a new client, did not satisfy the conditions stipulated in the bank's corporate loan policy," the ED stated.
The agency added, "The investigation further revealed that the acts of Mallya, UBHL and others indicate that a criminal conspiracy was hatched to sanction a bank loan to KAL in gross violations of established procedure, and KAL had no intention to repay the loan. Further, huge funds of around Rs 423 crore from these loans were sent outside India on the pretext of aircraft lease rentals but no supporting documents have been furnished so far to substantiate their bona fides. Therefore, not only was the bank loan obtained in questionable manner, but part of the loan has been siphoned off abroad in a calculated and pre-designed manner."