The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is gearing up to attach assets worth more than Rs 6,000 crore belonging to liquor baron Vijay Mallya and his family members in connection with the money laundering probe into the alleged Rs 900 crore IDBI loan fraud case.
The move for the second round of property seizure has picked up momentum after Mallya, who is currently in England, failed to appear before the special court dealing with cases under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Mallya and his associates are alleged to have diverted a part of the loan to some of their offshore businesses in violation of Reserve Bank of India norms.
A senior official confirmed that the ED has identified some immovable and movable assets, including shares belonging to Mallya and his family members in United Breweries Group and United Spirits Limited that have been pledged with banks. These would be among the assets that would be seized and frozen as part of the ongoing investigation. Some details of pledged shares have been obtained from HDFC Bank and Yes Bank while more such details are expected from other banks soon. The ED had already attached his properties worth about Rs 1,411 crore under PMLA in the case a few months ago.
The agency is also in the process of getting a 'proclaimed person' order issued from a special court which will then be forwarded to the ministry of external affairs for getting Mallya extradited from the UK so that he presents himself for the investigation.
The ED in June had sought the proclamation notice to be issued against Mallya as he had multiple arrest warrants pending against him, including a nonbailable warrant under the PMLA, and is required to join the investigation in person. The agency has been wanting Mallya to join the investigation in person in its PMLA probe against him and others and has virtually exhausted all legal remedies like seeking an Interpol arrest warrant and getting his passport revoked.
The ED had already sought to invoke the India-United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to have Mallya extradited from Britain.
Mallya had left India on March 2 using his diplomatic passport. The agency has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on a first information report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation last year.
A Delhi court had on Saturday also issued a NBW against Mallya in a 2012 cheque bounce case saying coercive steps are required to ensure his appearance in the court.
Assets belonging to Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines have already been taken over by banks and put up for auction twice to recover unpaid loans.
However, they have not been able to get any takers. The second auction for Kingfisher House last week proved to be an embarrassment after no bidder turned up for even at a reduced reserve price of Rs 135 crore. Bankers said that they may have to further lower the reserve price-which was set at Rs 150 crore in the earlier auction in March, which had failed to attract any prospective buyer.
The 17-bank consortium, led by State Bank of India, has been trying to sell this property as part of their efforts to recover dues totalling more than Rs 9,000 crore from the airline and had reduced the reserve price by 10 per cent for Thursday's auction.