Debt-laden drinks baron Vijay Mallya failed to disclose in successive annual affidavits as a Member of Parliament three bigticket apartments he owns in New York's iconic Trump Plaza, India Today has found.
The beleaguered tycoon, who is wanted in India for unpaid loans worth Rs 9,000 crore, bought two of the flats jointly with his then minor daughter, Tanya, but the third is solely in his name.
High-level sources in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) confirmed to India Today that the agency is scrutinising these New York City apartments, which Mallya withheld from Parliament.
Owning a property abroad is not a crime. But all MPs are required to file an annual affidavit, submitting a full list of their assets.
The hard-partying businessman, who flew to London last month amid a raging battle with creditors, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that banks have no right to details of the properties he owns overseas.
India Today has inspected Mallya's affidavits in Parliament from 2010 to 2014. In none of them has he disclosed that he owns three luxury flats in the heart of New York's Manhattan.
ED sources say they are investigating whether Mallya used money loaned by state-owned banks to buy these apartments, though the erstwhile "King of Good Times" has denied using funds borrowed from public sector banks (PSBs) to purchase real estate abroad. All three flats are located at the tower owned by Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner nominee for this year's US Presidential elections.
According to documents accessed by India Today from the office of the city register at NYC's department of finance, Mallya bought for Rs 6.3 crore his first flat at the Trump Plaza on March 3, 2010.
The address in the records is 39-D, 167 East 61st Street. The ownership of this super luxury flat is in the name of Vijay Mallya as the natural guardian and Tanya Mallya, who was a minor at the time.
Two months later, on May 19, 2010, he bought another flat, this time a penthouse, at the same address. Once again, Vijay Mallya is listed in the New York City records as the owner and natural guardian, and Tanya Mallya is shown as the co-owner.
The address listed is PHE, 167 East 61st Street. This penthouse cost him Rs 15.9 crore.
Mallya bought his third apartment at the Trump Plaza on September 16 the same year for Rs 7.9 crore. This property is solely in his name and the address in the public records is 38 PHA, 167 East 61st Street. The combined value of the flats at the time of purchase was Rs 30.1 crore.
On June 4, 2010, Mallya submitted an affidavit when he was appointed a member of the Rajya Sabha with the support of the Janta Dal (Secular) and BJP. As required by parliamentary procedures, he updated this affidavit every year, with the most recent one being submitted in 2014.
In these legal declarations, he laid out all his movable and immovable assets. Mallya listed his stake in United Breweries, Kingfisher Airlines, United Spirits, McDowell Holdings and a host of other investments valued at Rs 591 crore. He also declared the value of the estates in his name, a total of Rs 14 crore. However, he wrote "Nil" in the column where he was required to disclose the houses and apartments owned by him and his dependents.
Mallya had bought only one of the three properties at the time he filed the first affidavit. He had multiple opportunities subsequently to disclose the ownership of the apartments, but failed to do so.
The ED has told the courts that its investigation shows the flamboyant businessman bought foreign assets by misusing loans taken from state-owned banks. That is a charge the agency needs to prove. What cannot be disputed though is that Mallya owns properties overseas, which he failed to disclose as an MP.
A Mumbai special court this week issued a non-bailable warrant against him that can be executed if authorities force his return through deportation or extradition.
India Today sent multiple emails to Vijay Mallya and his official spokesperson. After three days of constant followups, the only response we got was "no comments".