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Sunday 19 January 2020

Vijay Mallya sends feelers about return: Officials

The central probe agency, as part of this action, has also sought immediate confiscation of assets worth around Rs. 12,500 crore of Mallya

New Delhi: Vijay Mallya, the embattled tycoon wanted in India on loan default and money-laundering charges, is reported to have sent feelers to central agencies and the government that he is willing to come back to the country to face the law, sources in the Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, have said.

Officials have indicated that the offer was prompted by the government’s decision to invoke a brand-new law to confiscate his assets in Delhi.

The former liquor baron is the first person to face a case in a Mumbai court under the country’s brand-new law that empowers courts to order seizure of properties left behind by fugitives who flee the country. The Enforcement Directorate had last month asked a Mumbai court to declare Vijay Mallya as a fugitive under this law.

There has been no comment from Vijay Mallya to reports of his offer to return.

The 62-year-old former liquor baron had earlier contested India’s request to extradite him from Britain to face charges of fraud and money laundering in India.

A court in London is hearing the case of Indian investigators for the liquor tycoon’s extradition to face trial in India.

The flamboyant businessman left India in 2016 when the banks were attempting to recover nearly Rs. 9,000 crores in unpaid loans to Kingfisher Airlines, a premium airline he started in 2005 and shut down seven years later.

Last month, he had offered to settle all his outstanding dues in a case being heard by the Karnataka High Court. He later told news agency Reuters that the assets placed before the high court were worth $ 2 billion which was much more than sufficient to repay creditors.

He had also rejected suggestions that it was linked to moves to declare him a fugitive under the new law.

A special Prevention of Money Laundering Act court in Mumbai had last month issued summons to the beleaguered businessman to appear before it on 27 August on the Enforcement Directorate’s plea seeking action against him under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance in the over Rs. 9,000 crore bank fraud case.

The central probe agency, as part of this action, has also sought immediate confiscation of assets worth around Rs. 12,500 crore of Mallya.

If he does not appear before the court or respond to its summons on the designated date, Mallya risks being declared a fugitive economic offender, besides properties linked to him being confiscated.

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