Former liquor baron Vijay Mallya's passport has been suspended by the central government for four weeks on the recommendation of the Enforcement Directorate, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday. The ED had on Wednesday written to the Regional Passport Office in Delhi, asking them to revoke his passport. The probe agency is investigating money laundering worth Rs 900 crore in an IDBI loan fraud case against the 60-year-old.

A statement released by MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that Mallya has been asked to respond within one week as to why his passport should not be impounded or revoked under Section 10(3)(c) of the Passports Act, 1967. The section allows the passport authority to revoke the travel document "in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or in the interests of the general public". If Mallya does not respond within a week, the MEA said the government will go ahead with the revocation.

This comes days after the businessman refused to present himself before the probe agency three times in connection with a money laundering case against him. Mallya, who is currently in the United Kingdom, had sought time till May to be questioned. Mallya had left the country in March still owing 17 banks in India around Rs 9,000 crore.