A Delhi court Tuesday ordered attachment of properties of businessman Vijay Mallya, who was declared a proclaimed offender for evading summons in a money laundering case related to FERA violation. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat directed the attachment through the Police Commissioner, Bengaluru, and sought a report by May 8 regarding the compliance of the order.
The court was hearing an Enforcement Directorate (ED) plea seeking attachment of Mallya’s properties. The court had on January 4 declared Mallya a proclaimed offender for evading summons in a FERA violation case after noting that he failed to appear before it despite repeated summonses. It had on April 12 last year issued an open-ended non-bailable warrant against the liquor baron. Unlike a non-bailable warrant, an ‘open-ended NBW’ does not carry a time limit for execution.
On November 4, 2016, while issuing non-bailable warrant against Mallya, the court had observed he had no inclination to return and had scant regard for the law of the land. It had said that coercive process has to be initiated against Mallya as he was facing proceedings in several cases ad avoiding appearance in those matters.
The court had also held that Mallya’s plea that he wanted to return to India but was “incapacitated” to travel as his passport had been revoked by Indian authorities was “malafide” and “abuse of the process of law”. Mallya, who is reportedly in London, had submitted before the court on September 9 that he was “incapacitated” to travel despite “best intentions” as his passport had been revoked.
On July 9, the court had cancelled the exemption from personal appearance granted to Mallya on an application of the ED and directed him to appear before it on September 9. The exemption was granted to Mallya in December 2000. The anti-money laundering agency had issued summons to the businessman in connection with alleged payment of USD 200,000 to a British firm for displaying Kingfisher logo during the Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval of the RBI in violation of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) norms. According to the ED, Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with the contract signed in December, 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula Ltd for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad.
When Mallya failed to appear before ED in response to the summons, a complaint was filed on March 8, 2000 before a court here and later charges were framed against him under FERA. Mallya, who had fled to the UK in March 2016, is also wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines’ default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore and some other matters.