Vijay Mallya   -  REUTERS

Vijay Mallya says ED, CBI have been ‘totally unreasonable’

Beleaguered tycoon requests banks to take back 100% of the principal amount


Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya has claimed that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have treated him “unreasonably” over the past four years.

The 64-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss is appealing against his extradition order to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to an alleged ₹ 9,000 crore in unpaid bank loans.

His lawyers told the British High Court this week that he had been the victim of the airline industry’s misfortunes and had no fraudulent intentions behind seeking loans for his now-defunct airline.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian authorities, countered the claims and stressed that there is a prima facie case for him to answer in the Indian courts.

The Enforcement Directorate attached the assets on the complaint by the banks that I was not paying them. I have not committed any offences under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) that the Enforcement Directorate should suo moto attach my assets,” he told reporters at the end of his three-day appeal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday.

“I am saying, please banks take your money. The ED is saying no, we have a claim over these assets. So, the ED on the one side and the banks on the other are fighting over the same assets What all they are doing to me for the last four years is totally unreasonable,” he said.

Representatives from the ED and CBI were present in court this week and took notes during the course of the appeal hearing, which began on Tuesday and concluded on Thursday.

Mallya also reiterated his message for the Indian banks to take back 100 per cent of the principal amount owed to them, which he stressed had not been borrowed by him but by Kingfisher Airlines.

“I request the banks with folded hands, take 100 per cent of your principal back, immediately I am willing to honour my guarantee and pay them in full. I do not want any discount on principal and the hangover of loss of public money,” he said.

“Under the bankruptcy code, so many companies are now changing hands with significant haircuts being taken by banks. I don’t want any haircut, I want them to take their money in full,” added Mallya, who has been based in the UK since March 2016.

Verdict at a later date

Lord Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing, the two-member bench presiding over the High Court appeal, will hand down their verdict at a later date after considering the oral as well as written submissions in the very dense case.

“We submit that he lied to get the loans, then did something with the money he wasn’t supposed to and then refused to give back the money. All this could be perceived by a jury as patently dishonest conduct,” CPS barrister Mark Summers told the court.

He referred to balance sheets and emails to counter Mallya’s lawyers’ claims that Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Emma Arbuthnot had fallen into error when she found a case to answer in the Indian courts against Mallya.

Mallya had received permission to appeal against his extradition order signed off by former UK home secretary Sajid Javid last February on the ground that the Indian government’s prima facie case against him of fraudulent intentions in acquiring bank loans had not been established.

At the end of a year-long extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in December 2018, Judge Arbuthnot concluded she found clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds .

Mallya remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April 2017 while he contests that ruling.