Twin blow for Mallya
Diageo and United Spirits Ltd, owned by the UK-based firm, have also been restrained by DRT Judge Benakanahalli from temporarily disbursing the amount to Mallya, who worked out the deal under a severance package. The tribunal ordered that the amount be attached till the disposal of the original application filed by State Bank of India in 2013.
In his order on the plea by the SBI application seeking the lenders’ first right on the $ 75-million sweetheart deal, the judge also directed disclosure of details of the agreement which they have arrived at. Three other applications filed by SBI before the DRT will come up for hearing on March 28.
SBI, which leads the consortium of 17 banks that lent money to the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, had moved DRT here against the airline’s chairman Mallya in its bid to recover over Rs 7,000 crore of dues from him. The state-owned top lender had filed three other applications, including one seeking Mallya’s arrest and impounding of his passport, which the judge had said on March 4 would be heard later.
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others in connection with the alleged default of over Rs 900 crore loan from IDBI bank. Sources in ED said that the agency filed charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on an FIR registered last year by CBI in the same case.
The agency official said that sleuths were also looking at the overall financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher airlines and a separate probe under foreign exchange violation charges could also be initiated. “Mallya and others will soon be questioned. The agency has collected relevant documents from concerned authorities and the bank in question,” he said. The ED is looking into the “proceeds of crime” that would have been generated using the slush funds of the alleged loan fraud.
The CBI had booked Mallya, director of Kingfisher Airlines, the company, A Raghunathan, Chief Financial Officer of the airlines, and unknown officials of IDBI Bank in its FIR alleging that the loan was sanctioned in violation of norms regarding credit limits. The CBI action came as part of its wide probe into criminal aspects of loans declared to be non-performing assets by public sector banks.
The grounded Kingfisher was a four-year-old NPA case for banks. However, banks delayed in filing complaint against Kingfisher and its promoter Mallya despite repeated requests from the CBI. The debt-laden airlines had stopped its operations in October 2012.
While a DRT order was expected on Monday, ex-Kingfisher airlines employees wrote an open letter to Mallya and said that they have been cheated of their remuneration and service benefits. The letter, which comes days after the beleaguered industrialist said that the “only regret” he has was that the carrier is not flying when the oil price has dipped so low, also accused him of having “blood”-stained hands.