A United Kingdom court has granted permission to UK High Court Enforcement Officer to enter Vijay Mallya’s properties in Hertfordshire, near London. The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any enforcement agents acting under his authority, may enter Ladywalk, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn and Bramble Lodge, to search for and take control of goods belonging to the First Defendant (Mallya). Further, the High Court also granted permission to the Enforcement Officer, including any Enforcement Agent acting under his authority, to use reasonable force to enter the properties if necessary.
Vijay Mallya is undergoing an extradition trial in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges by Indian authorities. Extradition is the act by one nation’s jurisdiction of delivering a person who has been accused of committing a crime in another nation’s jurisdiction or has been convicted of a crime in that other jurisdiction, into the custody of a law enforcement agency of that nation where he committed the crime. Earlier, Judge Andrew Henshaw had upheld the Indian court’s decision to freeze all of his assets and said that 13 Indian banks led by State Bank of India (SBI) are entitled to recover funds from the Kingfisher owner, amounting to nearly Rs.9000 crores. The victory for the 13 Indian banks – which include State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co. Pvt Ltd enabled them to enforce the Indian judgment against Mallya’s assets in England and Wales. Meanwhile, the former Kingfisher Airlines boss remains free on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year. He will return for his extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on July 31st, when closing arguments are expected from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) acting on behalf of the Indian government.
The infamous former liquor baron is the first person to face prosecution under the newly brought Fugitive Economic Offenders bill, 2018. Enforcement Directorate (ED), the law enforcement agency and economic intelligence agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crimes, moved the special court for “immediate confiscation” of attached assets valued at over Rs 12,400 crores. The Kingfisher Airlines Company run by Vijay Mallya ran into losses since its inception in 2002, and finally closed its operations in 2012. The defunct airline has a loan default case of around Rs 10,000 crores from a consortium of 17 banks. Most of the loans were from public sector banks, with State Bank of India being the largest loan provider. Vijay Mallya was a member of Rajya Sabha between the period of 2002-2008 and 2010-2016, and it is alleged that he used his political influence to get loans from public sector banks. Mallya has said that the prevailing macroeconomic conditions and the UPA government’s aviation policies forced Kingfisher to shut down operations in October 2012. While there is some truth to Mallya’s allegations, he still has to pay back the money he owes to the banks. The Modi government took a tough stance against corruption and took various steps like demonetization and GST to curb black money. On his recent visit to the United Kingdom, PM Modi negotiated the extradition proceedings of Vijay Mallya with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
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