India has asked Britain to deport liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who flew to London last month, as the State Bank of India-led consortium of banks built pressure on him to repay about Rs 9,500 crore owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA).
The ministry of external affairs has written to the British high commission seeking Mallya's return so that "his presence can be secured for investigations against him" under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, official spokesman Vikas Swarup told the media here on Thursday. He said that the Indian high commission in the UK will also be issuing a similar note verbale to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Swarup also emphasised that India will continue pursuing Mallya's deportation matter with UK authorities.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had approached the ministry seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against Mallya, charged with money laundering in the Rs 900-crore IDBI loan fraud case. The ED had accused Mallya's UB Group of diverting `430 crore of bank loans taken for KFA to buy property overseas.
A non-bailable warrant against Mallya had been issued by a special judge in Mumbai as he did not appear for the hearings which has strengthened the government's case to get him deported.
The ED has also decided to make a formal request to Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against Mallya.
The premier investigative agency's move comes in the backdrop of Mallya's counsel CS Vaidyanathan stating in the Supreme Court that the businessman does not plan to return because he might be taken straight away to Tihar Jail as soon as he lands. Mallya has not disclosed his whereabouts since flew he from Delhi to London on March 2 after attending a Rajya Sabha session. Meanwhile, lenders have decided to auction the trademarks of KFA, including the 'Kingfisher logo and oncefamous 'Fly the Good Time' tagline on April 30. The reserve price for the trademarks, which also include Flying Models, Fly the Good Times, Funliner, Fly Kingfisher, Flying Bird device, has been kept at `366 crore. The airlines had pledged the trademarks as collateral with banks at the time of taking loans from them.
In its annual report for 2012-13, KFA had said that at its peak, it was the largest airline in India with a five-star rating from Skytrax. A valuation report from Grant Thornton put its brand value at $550 million on resumption of operations.
The airline's brand had been registered separately from the Kingfisher beer trademark. According to the experts, the auction is unlikely to generate any interest from bidders as the value of brand has deteriorated.
"KFA brand value has deteriorated in last few years. ... the owner has been the ambassador of the brand and the way Vijaya Mallya has been behaving, there are some negative connotations which are being associated with the brand," N. Chandramouli, chief executive officer, TRA, a brand intelligence and data insights company, said.