The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will seize the Indian assets of UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya once it completes the process of obtaining information on his personal investments, properties and shares, according to two persons aware of the agency’s plan.

The ED is investigating alleged money laundering by the businessman, whom it suspects of siphoning off 430 crore from an IDBI Bank Ltd loan to his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd to purchase properties overseas.

“We are trying to quantify the default and diversion of funds. Mallya’s personal investments in various companies, real estate properties and the shares held by him in India are being examined for attachment under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) so that no third-party rights can be created in them," said an ED official who did not want to be named.

Another official from the investigative agency confirmed the plan, adding that the ED is also in talks with the market regulator.

“We are in touch with the Securities and Exchange Board of India so that we are able to attach the Indian shares held by Mallya. We are also keeping the depositories informed," said the second official, who also declined to be named.

The process of attaching Mallya’s properties may overlap with the loan recovery process being followed by banks. Lenders have been attempting to recover long-pending dues of Kingfisher Airlines through the sale of assets, but haven’t had much success so far.

Mallya left for the UK on 2 March as creditors led by State Bank of India (SBI) closed in on the businessman, who owes them more than 9,000 crore in loans advanced to Kingfisher Airlines, which was grounded in 2012.

“The banks and the other government agencies should come together to drive a commercial and practical solution for recovery of dues. A coordinated approach will ensure better recovery, also reducing the level of uncertainty in the minds of potential bidders," said Dinkar V., partner (restructuring), EY.

Assets that have been pledged with the banks include the Kingfisher House located in Mumbai, the Kingfisher brand, two helicopters and shares worth 745 crore (value at the time of pledging).

The ED will first look to attach properties that are not pledged to banks.

“We will approach the court for attachment orders of Mallya’s personal properties and assets. We estimate that assets worth 4,000 crore are still available to be attached," explained the second official.

In particular, ED could look to attach Mallya’s 32.8% shareholding in United Breweries worth 6,724 crore. Half of these shares are already pledged with banks but the rest can be attached.

“We will first focus on low-hanging fruits (assets) to build a strong prosecution case against Mallya," said the first official.

Also Read: UK won’t deport Vijay Mallya, asks India to seek extradition

The ED is not the only government agency that is looking to seize Mallya’s assets. The service tax department has put out an advertisement for the sale of former UB Group chairman’s corporate jet, whose registration number famously bore his initials, VT-VJM, Mint reported on 24 March. The auction is intended to recover 370 crore in dues and penalties.

The attachment of assets and attempts to sell them have yielded little so far.

Banks, for instance, tried to auction Kingfisher House in March but failed to find any bidders due to the high reserve price set for the property. The auction of brands and trademarks of Kingfisher Airlines on 30 April also failed to attract bidders.

Various government agencies have been attempting to get Mallya back to the country from the UK to question him in connection with alleged violations. The government has revoked his passport.

On Wednesday, the Indian government said that a request to the UK government to deport Mallya had been rejected.

“The UK Government has informed us that under the 1971 Immigration Act, the UK does not require an individual to hold a valid passport in order to remain in the UK if they have extant leave to remain as long as their passport was valid when leave to remain or enter the UK was conferred," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Wednesday.

“At the same time, the UK acknowledges the seriousness of the allegations and is keen to assist Government of India. They have asked GoI to consider requesting mutual legal assistance or extradition," he added.

Elizabeth Roche in New Delhi contributed to this story.

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