Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya battling creditors seeking to recover dues, offered to deposit Rs 1,590 crore ($240 million) with India's top court to establish his intent to settle with lenders who had rejected an earlier payment proposal.
Lawyers representing the founder of the collapsed Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, who the government says left the country earlier this year, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Thursday in response to a directive to declare all his assets. The debt owed by the failed carrier is at the centre of India's drive to crack down on defaulters and clean up the balance sheets of its banks weighed down by soured loans.
Mallya also told the court that overseas assets are not considered while granting loans, and sought permission to file information of his assets in a sealed cover on June 26.
He also said banks had no right to any of this information as they were not involved in overseas assets recast. He further added that he can make an additional payment of Rs 1,398 crore withheld by the Karnataka High Court.
Reiterating his earlier position, Mallya told the court he isn't a "wilful defaulter" and the airline was "genuine commercial failure."
He was making all efforts to work out a settlement "in all sincerity" by offering to pay "to the extent possible and feasible" until the government suspended his passport and a court in Mumbai issued a non-bailable warrant against him, he said in the filing.
India's foreign ministry, acting on an application by the Enforcement Directorate, said April 15 that Mallya had a week to respond to why his diplomatic passport shouldn't be impounded or revoked, after suspending it for four weeks. The government says Mallya and Kingfisher owed as much as 90.9 billion rupees ($1.37 billion) as of November 30.
Meanwhile, armed with a non-bailable arrest warrant against him, the Enforcement Directorate has approached the External Affairs Ministry seeking initiation of deportation proceedings against Mallya in connection with its money laundering probe against him in the Rs 900 crore IDBI alleged loan fraud case.
The agency has written to the ministry of external affairs and will also soon write to the Central Bureau of Investigation to get an Interpol Red Corner Notice issued against Mallya to get him arrested, based on the warrant issued by a Mumbai court.
Last week, MEA had suspended Mallya's diplomatic passport and has sought a reply from him as to why his passport should not be revoked.
Sources said once the deportation proceedings are initiated, MEA will seek assistance of its counterparts in the United Kingdom to interdict Mallya and fly him back to India.
"The grounds for deportation are primarily two. A non-bailable warrant issued by the Mumbai court and suspension of the passport of the businessman," they said.
Mallya is understood to be in the UK after he left India on March 2.
It may be mentioned here that a Hyderabad court had on Wednesday convicted Mallya in a cheque-bouncing case filed against him by GMR Hyderabad International Airport.
With the latest request for deportation, the ED has virtually deployed all legal measures in place to bring back Mallya to India and make him join investigations "in person", which the agency had stated in a Mumbai court was essential to take the probe forward in the case.
Mallya has skipped three summons issued by ED in this regard in the past. He had also sought time till May to depose before agency investigators.
Enfoprcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI.
The agency is not only investigating the financial structure of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines but also looking into any payment of kickbacks to secure loans from IDBI and probing laundering of funds to overseas destinations by the group.
The agency had alleged that Mallya had siphoned off Rs 430 crore of the IDBI loan and used this money to acquire properties abroad, a charge denied by Kingfisher.