17 banks move SC to restrain Vijay Mallya from leaving India
“List it for hearing tomorrow,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit said, when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for PSU banks, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing. Rohatgi said that the plea has been moved by 17 banks, including State Bank of India, against Mallya whose various firms have taken loan from them. He also said that the dues run into thousands of crores.
In fresh trouble for Mallya, white collar crime probe agency SFIO has launched an investigation into alleged fund diversion and financial irregularities at long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines. Mallya, widely known as ‘King of Good Times’ for his flamboyance and lavish lifestyle, is already facing the heat from lenders over loan defaults, while Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case against him and others.
Capital markets regulator Sebi is also probing his various group companies, while the Debt Recovery Tribunal on Monday barred him from accessing a Rs 515-crore payout from Diageo as part of a ‘sweetheart deal’ to exit United Spirits. Regarding the probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said in written reply to a Rajya Sabha question that the investigation is current “under progress”. The agency is looking at alleged “diversion of funds and financial reporting frauds”.
Bogged down by huge debt and operational problems, Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines was grounded in 2012.
Giving details about various probes being conducted by SFIO, Jaitley said the agency has been asked to investigate 42 companies in the current fiscal till December 31, 2015.
Besides Kingfisher, Pearl Group firms PGF and PACL, as well as Saradha Housing figure among these 42 companies. A multi-disciplinary organisation, SFIO probes cases of financial frauds that are referred to it by the Corporate Affairs Ministry.
On Monday the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Bangalore restrained Mallya from accessing $ 75 million (Rs 515 crore) exit payment from Diageo till the loan default case with SBI is settled. Diageo and United Spirits Ltd, now owned by the UK-based liquor giant, were also restrained by the tribunal from temporarily disbursing the $75 million amount to Mallya, who had worked out the deal under a severance package.