Vijay Mallya, UBHL sat on huge funds as Kingfisher Airlines battled debt: ED
Before the end of last year, Vijay Mallya offered to pay back the loan he owes to Indian banks in full as a UK court was hearing a matter over his extradition. But recent findings by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) claim that the fugitive businessman decided to hold back substantial funds he had at his disposable even as his Kingfisher Airlines suffered due to debt in its name.
The agency's probe showed that Mallya, United Breweries Holdings Ltd (UBHL) and others promoters of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Limited (KAL) held shares of various public listed companies but did not use these instruments to clear the outstanding dues.
Investigating under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, ED found that Mallya and UBHL held shares worth Rs 3,847.45 crore, an IANS report said. As on August 12, 2016, Mallya on his own possessed Rs 1,773.49 crore in shares of UBHL, United Spirits, United Breweries and Mcdowell. Out of this, shares worth Rs 1,653 crore were pledged to UTI Investor Services, it further added.
In its earlier investigations, the ED had reportedly found that Mallya had no intention of repaying the Rs 5,500 crore to an SBI-led consortium of banks even after they agreed to restructure the debt. Instead, Rs 3,516 crore was channelised through dummy companies as an unsecured loan to KAL by UBHL.
Investment entities held pledged shares worth Rs 2,000 crore. The total value of unpledged shares held by investment entities is about Rs 1,800 crore which could be used to replay a third of the outstanding loan of KAL, IANS said in its report. Even in the case of pledged shares, a substantial amount could have been withdrawn as the outstanding loan against them amounted only to Rs 755 crore.
These shares pledged to UTI Investor Services could not be sold either, as liability towards them had been cleared, even though lien was not removed. Investor services could not sell them as the transfer of these shares had been prohibited in the lien agreement.
"These facts again indicate the intent of Vijay Mallya regarding non-payment of the dues to the consortium of banks. If he had the sincerity and willingness for repayment, he would have got possession of these shares and used these for repayment," ED said in its provisional attachment order.
Earlier this week, Mallya's extradition to India was approved by the UK Home Secretary. However, the liquor baron still has a week to appeal against his extradition before the High Court, something he has decided to do.
Furthermore, Mallya still has three more courts to appeal to before exhausting his options. The next court is the Crown Court from where it will lead to the Queen's Bench of High Court of Justice followed by the UK Supreme Court. So this is one extradition that is unlikely to happen in a hurry, if at all. No wonder the bank consortium wants to get a head starts on the r