The Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court in Mumbai on Tuesday that it had no objection to liquidation of Vijay Mallya’s confiscated assets by a consortium of banks led by State Bank of India which is seeking to recover more than Rs 9,000 crore from the fugitive businessman.
Replying to an application filed by the lenders in the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai, the agency said “the complainant (ED) leaves it to the best judgement of this honourable court to grant the prayer”.
In a four-page reply, the ED further said, “However, in case the court deems it fit to allow the application, it shall take an undertaking from the applicant to return the said amount with interest in case the court at any point in time deem it fit and appropriate, in the interest of justice to deposit the said amount to the court or the complainant without any delay.
Mallya subsequently said he would appeal against the decision in the UK High Court.
In its reply, the ED said that “the money sought to be recovered is public money and thus restoration of assets in favour of the applicants lies in public interest” since the lenders, barring one, are state-run banks. It said the banks, except one, “have the backing of the state and thus carry with themselves a sovereign guarantee”.
“The banks want to encash the assets at the earliest so as to bring the money back into the system. Recently, the DRT (Debt Recovery Tribunal) also allowed attachment and sale of the properties,” senior counsel Nitin Pradhan, who represented the banks, told ET. “The court has asked Mallya and other parties staking claim on the confiscated properties to file their say by then (March 13).”
Mallya, who left the country in March 2016 and has been living in the UK, is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud banks and money laundering, among other offences.