Says he had extended full cooperation, civil matters being treated as criminal charges
Vijay Mallya, the tycoon who’s self-exiled in Britain to avoid probe agencies in this country, has accused the latter of 'pursuing a heavily biased investigation' and holding him guilty without trial.
This was a day after the Enforcement Directorate attached properties worth Rs 1,411 crore (Rs 14.11 billion) of Mallya and his United Breweries (Holdings) in the case of alleged diversion of a Rs 430-crore (Rs 4.3-billion) loan from IDBI Bank to run his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The ED has also approached court under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act Court to declare Mallya a proclaimed absconder, after he did not respond to non-bailable summon warrants.
“The assets purportedly attached under PMLA date back to several years prior to the launch of Kingfisher Airlines.
"There is no rationale nor any legal basis for the series of actions initiated by the ED, which is now making it more difficult to raise resources to pay the banks,” Mallya stated on Sunday night.
“Purely civil matters such as loan recovery are being connected with criminal allegations, without any basis whatsoever.”
PMLA allows taking over of the property of a person being investigated.
“I left India as per schedule on March 2 to attend meetings in Geneva, at which time no ED proceedings had commenced and no summons had been issued to me,” Mallya said.
“All government agencies are approaching various courts to cancel previous exemptions from personal appearance granted to me, so that further NBWs can be issued against me.
All of which seem part of a concerted effort to construct a case for my extradition.”
On Sunday, the Press Trust of India reported that the ED clarified to Interpol, the global police network that had raised questions on the investigating agency’s request to issue a ‘red corner’ notice against Mallya.
Issuance of an RCN against Mallya was 'obligatory', the ED told Interpol, as all due legal processes had been followed in this regard.
Mallya is being investigated by both the Central Bureau of Investigation and ED, of shifting offshore Rs 900-crore (Rs 9-billion) of loans taken from IDBI Bank -- an internal committee had recommended against the loan.
Mallya also faces cases at the Supreme Court, Karnataka high court and Debt Recovery Tribunal in Bengaluru, over Rs 7,200 crore (Rs 72 billion) of unpaid loans taken for Kingfisher.
His passport has been formally ordered impounded and warrants issued for not appearing before the ED for investigation.
On Monday, the DRT here will resume hearing the case filed against Mallya by a consortium of lenders led by State Bank of India to recover their unpaid dues.
Last week, the tribunal had asked the banks to adjust a little over Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) deposited in the HC towards unpaid loans.
Mallya complained CBI had constituted a special investigation team to further investigate him and Kingfisher, despite months of personal interviews with him.
“It is, indeed, sad and disappointing that the thousands of documents submitted by us and interrogation of several executives seems insufficient to convince them there has been no wrongdoing.
"I have maintained and continue to maintain that there has been absolutely no misappropriation or diversion of funds and strenuously deny any allegation to the contrary,” goes his statement.
The UB Group had put Rs 6,000 crore (Rs 60 billion) of own money into Kingfisher, recalled Mallya, and this had been lost due to a genuine business failure.
At the relevant time, state-owned Air India received a bailout package of Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) from the government, which went to show the stressed position of the aviation sector at the time.
“The ED has alleged that proceeds from the loan made to Kingfisher by IDBI Bank were diverted or siphoned out.
"Kingfisher provided full details, supported by copies of bank statements and swift copies showing the funds were utilised only for legitimate business purposes.
If the ED wish to expand their scope to include all banks, Kingfisher will be only too happy to provide full details and cooperate in the investigation,” Mallya pleaded.
Image: Vijay Mallya. Photograph: Reuters