Vijay Mallya may soon be declared an absconding offender in the money laundering case. The liquor baron and boss of now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines had previously been declared a proclaimed offender by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under section 4 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002.
Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines owes thousands of crores to multiple banks including the SBI. Over the past few months, the ED had been systematically attaching assets of Mallya in a bid to tighten the screws on the businessman-turned-former MP. Till date, the ED has attached assets worth over Rs 7,000 crore belonging to Mallya.
Well placed sources told THE WEEK that Mallya so far had completely disregarded and pooh-poohed the probe into his misdemeanour by Indian agencies like CBI and the ED. He remained totally inaccessible and shunned the processes of law in India.
"Mallya used a good number of dummy paper companies to divert and move funds which were ultimately launder," said a senior ED official, requesting anonymity.
The ED had filed ECIR/03/MBZO/2016 against Mallya on January 25 this year and began investigating him. The ED held that during its probe it could be established that as chairman of Kingfisher Mallya, "appears to have committed gross irregularities in utilising banks loans and is suspected to have been primarily instrumental in diversion and laundering of funds against avowed purpose...”.
"We are moving to declare Mallya an absconding accused soon. This is since he had failed to appear before the designated courts in India, despite being given a specific notice period. Already, a good number of his assets like offices and residential buildings are being attached by the ED," prosecution lawyer representing ED, Hiten Venegavkar, told THE WEEK.
During the first few phases of the controversy, the Indian government had revoked his diplomatic passport, which Mallya possessed by virtue of being a member of the parliament. However, it has been reported that Mallya's name appeared on UK's electoral rolls and that he has a mansion at Hertfordshire on the outskirts of London.
The businessman also has certain investments in the UK and is believed to be having "influential connections" in that country. The UK authorities had once turned down the request to extradite Mallya.