Rajya Sabha MP and former liquor baron Vijay Mallya left the country on March 2, the day public sector banks — whom he owes over ₹9,000 crore in loans — moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) against him.
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for 17 PSU banks, including State Bank of India, revealed this when the apex court asked him about Mallya’s whereabouts.
The banks had approached the Supreme Court with a plea to restrain Mallya from leaving the country.
Rohatgi told a Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman that the CBI had informed him the industrialist had left India on March 2.
“There seems to be very little left for us (to do),” remarked Justice Nariman.
Rohatgi asked the apex court to pass an order directing Mallya to appear before the Bench, passport in hand.
He said the “only information” about Mallya is on social media sites, which show that most of his assets are abroad. “Only a fraction is in India... may be one-fifth.”
“Then how did you give these loans? Were there no secured assets?” Justice Kurian asked.
Rohatgi replied that at the time the loans were extended, Kingfisher Airlines was a brand at its peak, with assets worth some thousand crores, and then “it crashed”.
Notice issued The Bench then issued notice to Mallya through his company United Breweries Holdings Limited; his counsel; the Indian High Commissioner to the UK and via his Rajya Sabha email address.
The court sought a reply in two weeks and fixed the next hearing for March 30.
When Justice Kurian asked Rohatgi what guarantee there was that Mallya would be in the UK to receive the notice, he replied: “He has tremendous assets there.”
Rajya Sabha records show that Mallya attended the sitting of the Upper House on March 1, a day before he left the country.
Diageo payoff: UK-based liquor major Diageo confirmed on Wednesday that it had paid Mallya $40 million (₹275 crore) “immediately” as part of the $75 million (₹516 crore) agreement it had entered with him on February 25, reports IANS.
Asked about the DRT’s March 7 order to it not to pay Mallya any part of the severance package till its next hearing on March 28, Diageo spokesperson Kirsty King said the company was yet to receive such an order.
“We will review once the full details are available,” King said.
On Monday, the Bengaluru bench of the DRT had temporarily restrained Diageo from paying the $75 million to Mallya.
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