Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya guilty of disobeying top court

Vijay Mallya has broken his silence. Credit PTI

In 2013, lenders, including State Bank of India (SBI) had moved an application at the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in Bengaluru, seeking directions to Mallya and his companies to recover the money owed to them (the banks).

Mallya, left India in March a year ago on a diplomatic passport to the United Kingdom and has not joined investigations by the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, despite official summons.

The indebted liquor baron, who co-owns a Formula One team and a cricket side, fled India in 2016 owing more than $1.3 billion in loans to more than a dozen banks. On July 10, the apex court would argue on the quantum of punishment in the matter.

The 61-year-old can face a jail term or fine or both if he does not show up in court.

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The banks which have lent money to Mallya said he intentionally kept the court in dark about $40 million he received in February past year from British liquor major Diageo for stepping down as chairman and MD of United Spirits Ltd.

The "King of good times" received $40 million from British firm Diageo Plc in February 2016 and transferred the money to his children, instead of repaying loans that he owes to the banks.

The top court directed Mallya to appear on July 10 when it will deliberate on a sentence. India has been seeking his extradition over the charges, which Mallya denies. The liquor baron was recently arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police on behalf of the Indian authorities over fraud accusations, but he was bailed out within three hours. The businessman is wanted in India for alleged loan default and money laundering cases.

During the meeting with Patsy Wilkinson, the second permanent secretary in the British Home Office, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had raised the issue of early completion of the extradition process of Mallya. The Centre, he said, was taking action to bring him back and added that Mallya "had not made an honest disclosure regarding the $40 million".

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