The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya, directing him to submit an affidavit in response to a petition filed against him by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India. The banks have demanded that Mallya deposit in the court the $40 million (approximately Rs 273 crore) he is believed to have received from British firm Diageo last February, PTI reported.
The counsel for the banks, senior advocate Shyam Divan, said that Mallya’s move to transfer the $40 million to his son’s account was in “flagrant violation” of the Karnataka High Court and Debt Recovery Tribunal’s orders. The top court gave him three weeks to respond to the plea and scheduled the next hearing for February 2.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi argued that the $40 million belonged to the consortium, claiming that Mallya had stashed the money in a Swiss bank account. The Supreme Court bench, comprising justices Kurian Joseph and AM Khanwilkar, rapped the businessman for not disclosing the assets as per their earlier order.
In October 2016, the apex court had directed Mallya to disclose his overseas properties. Mallya had claimed earlier that he was not paid the $40 million in cash and that the amount was spent to make payments and used for other business requirements. In March, Diageo had had it has paid Mallya the amount as part of the Rs 515-crore payment they were to give him for resigning as chairman of United Spirits. Earlier, the Debt Recovery Tribunal had barred Mallya from receiving the payment, but Diageo said it did not receive the DRT’s order.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had obtained a non-bailable warrant against the businessman in November 2016 and initiated the process to have him extradited from the United Kingdom. The warrant was issued in connection with the case in which Mallya owes the consortium of 17 banks a whopping Rs 9,000 crore.
Mallya left the country on March 2, 2016, and has been in the United Kingdom since then. He had claimed to be on a “forced exile” and unable to return to India. The Centre, however, had countered his argument, saying Mallya could have easily applied for an Emergency Certificate at an Indian Embassy or High Commission in the UK.