The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which investigates money laundering cases, has identified several properties of businessman Vijay Mallya in South Africa and Europe, acquired through a web of offshore companies and trusts, which will soon be attached, people familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.
So far, ED has attached Mallya assets worth Rs 11,231 crore (more than the alleged proceeds of crime), which are mostly located in India, except a property worth Rs 14 crore attached in France in November last year.
The agency didn’t touch his assets in the UK as 13 Indian banks led by State Bank of India are already pursuing the courts there to recover the money from him. The former liquor baron flew to the UK from India in March 2016 as banks closed in on him to recover Rs.9,000 crore owed to them by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
One of the officials cited above said the had located Mallya’s properties in South Africa, including a mansion bought by him in Cape Town, and a couple of properties in Europe. The official refused to share the details and value of these properties until the exact ownership is verified and they are attached.
Mallya is currently on bail in the UK and his extradition, although cleared by the courts,has been delayed because of a “confidential legal hearing”, according to the British high commission in Delhi.
Indian agencies have not been informed officially or unofficially on what grounds Mallya’s extradition has been held up. Officials in ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) suspect that Mallya had applied for asylum in the UK on “certain unknown specific grounds” because his claim of a “political witch-hunt” against him has been debunked by British courts.
It has been alleged by both the agencies that Mallya diverted most of the money taken from Indian banks into foreign assets, the Indian Premier League (IPL) team and F1 motorsport firm Formula One.
Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot had issued a ruling for Mallya’s extradition to India in December 2018 in response to a request from the Indian government, which has accused him of “knowingly misrepresenting” the profitability of his companies when he sought bank loans in 2009.
The UK high court, in its ruling in April, upheld the senior district judge’s verdict. When the UK high court refused Mallya permission to appeal to the Supreme Court last month on the ground that his case didn’t involve a “point of law of general public importance”, the long-drawn extradition process was believed to have entered the last stage.
Mallya is currently on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017.
An email sent to Mallya remained unanswered.