The Debt Recovery Tribunal on Monday said former liquor baron Vijay Mallya cannot access the Rs 515 crore he received from selling his United Spirits business to Diageo, till a case against him led by the State Bank of India is settled. SBI is heading a consortium of 17 banks that Mallya cumulatively owes more than Rs 7,000 crore. SBI had also demanded that Mallya be arrested and his passport impounded.
Earlier in the day, the Enforcement Directorate had filed a separate case against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act based on charges registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The ED said it will check whether Mallya diverted loans worth Rs 900 crore from IDBI bank to offshore accounts. On Sunday, Vijay Mallya had said he will cooperate with investigators as they probe into the unpaid loans from his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The 60-year-old businessman said he was trying to reach a “one-time settlement” with the lenders through additional payments, but denied having personally been a “borrower or judgement defaulter”. Mallya also rejected allegations of being an absconder, a claim that surfaced in connection with his statement of wanting to spend more time in England after he stepped down as chairman of United Spirits last month, in exchange for $75 million (Rs 515 crore) from parent company Diageo.
Mallya also said the State Bank of India, which moved the Bangalore Debt Recovery Tribunal demanding his arrest, a full disclosure of his assets and his passport to be impounded, was aware of the financial trouble Kingfisher Airlines was in and had reported the same to the Reserve Bank of India in January 2012, much before the company was grounded in October that year. The SBI led a group of banks seeking to recover loans amounting to around Rs 8,000 crore along with interest and penalties.
The businessman also claimed that the media had “grossly distorted and mis-portrayed” his statement of wanting to spend more time with family in England, calling it a “near hysterical campaign”. He also clarified that the payments from United Spirits' parent company Diageo are towards his personal non-compete obligations globally, except in the United Kingdom.