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Once back home,Vijay Mallya could face several months in jail

Giriprakash KV Bengaluru | Updated on February 08, 2019

Vijay Mallya   -  Bloomberg

With the UK government approving the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the fugitive businessman is expected to be back in India in four-six months.

Once here, he cannot escape a jail term, which could stretch to as long as 18-24 months depending on the conviction in various cases against him, according to some of the top law firms.

Mallya is expected to be arrested as soon as he arrives in India, and the CBI will seek his custody until such time it is able to conclude its investigations. The Enforcement Directorate (ED), too, will be given an opportunity to probe him.

Subsequently, Mallya could be sent to judicial custody,where he will remain until he gets bail in all the cases filed against him. This could easily take several months, according to Vijay Belavadi, Partner at Bengaluru-based law firm BRK Law Partners.

Several charges

Mallya has multiple cases filed against him for violation of several laws. Some of the key ones include non-payment of salaries to Kingfisher Airlines employees, defaulting on loan repayments to banks and money laundering, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Once being extradited to India, he will have to make arrangements to pay salary dues to his airline employees. If he defaults, the minimum jail term will be six months. He can also be convicted over cheque bouncing cases, Belavadi said.

Now that the ED has agreed to release Mallya’s assets to the consortium of banks led by SBI, it will become easier for the lenders to recover the money by selling off his properties. But it will be a long drawn affair, as buyers for such assets are hard to come by.

If Mallya is proved guilty in the money laundering case, there is a possibility of him serving a jail term of around seven years even though the prison sentence involving conviction in several cases can run concurrently.

The way out

Another law firm that at one time served UB Holdings said that Mallya could file several counter cases and seek bail from time to time to keep himself away from serving jail on a continuous basis. “Leaked reports to the media about Mallya’s involvement in money laundering will have to be backed by evidence once such cases come up for scrutiny,” said one of the partners in the law firm.

However, Mallya can escape with a far lesser jail term if he is able to pay off the salaries Kingfisher Airlines employees, and if he is able to convince the lenders to allow him to pay off only the principal amount of the entire loan. In the money laundering case, the ED will have to conclusively prove that Mallya had been involved in a criminal activity listed under the PMLA. It will also have to prove that loans were diverted to invest in Force India Formula One team and IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Published on February 08, 2019

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