The plush London residence of fugitive billionaire Vijay Mallya called Lady Walk was bought using the Indian tax payer's money routed through companies located in the UK, Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has discovered. Exclusive details accessed by INDIA TODAY TV of the probe show that Mallya paid 6.1 million US dollars (Rs 39.7 crore) from the Kingfisher Airline's HSBC account in London to a British company, Continental Administrative Services, which, "is having ownership interests in the property at Lady Walk, London, the present address of Mr Mallya", as per a confidential note prepared by the CBI.
The SFO has now shared details of the case with the CBI. Lady Walk is the plush Hertfordshire property that belonged to F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. Mallya is accused of defrauding the Indian tax payers of Rs 9,000 crore given by a consortium of 17 banks. IDBI alone loaned Mallya nearly Rs 900 crore, of which a substantial amount has been laundered abroad, including to companies located in Britain.
The SFO has also informed India that nearly Rs 242 crore transferred from the Axis Bank account of Kingfisher Airlines to its London accounts. "The loans disbursed by various Indian banks were routed through the said Axis Bank accounts," says the SFO note to the CBI. In fact, in June this year, around the time the Enforcement Directorate was filing its charge-sheet of money laundering by Mallya, the business tycoon was trying to shift a major chunk of funds from companies he fronted in London to a Swiss Bank.
Mallya was trying to launder nearly 18 million US dollars (Rs 117 crore) to the CBH Bank in Switzerland. This is bad news for Mallya because the companies he was using to transfer the funds are located in the UK, a crucial fact that will help India's case for extradition. The SFO has told India that some of the UK companies include Harrison Finance Limited, Drayton Resources Limited and Black Forest Holdings Limited.
The CBI sent letters of request to the British and Swiss Authorities to freeze these assets as the agency felt that"there are reasonable grounds to believe that the funds used for acquisition of the property at Lady Walk and the funds lying in the accounts of the aforementioned British companies originated from the proceeds of loans disbursed by Indian Banks".
For India to extradite Mallya, it has to satisfy a "dual criminality clause" in the extradition treaty between the two countries. In other words, if Mallya has cheated Indian banks, the case being made out by the UK is that he has laundered money using British companies. The SFO case will go a step further in nailing Mallya.