NEW DELHI: An Indian court on Monday issued an arrest warrant for the embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya, who left the country owing more than $1 billion, an official said.
The 60-year-old liquor baron, once dubbed the “King of Good Times”, left India on March 2 despite calls for his arrest and is believed to be in Britain.
“The court today issued a non-bailable warrant against Vijay Mallya at our request,” said a senior official at the Enforcement Directorate, the government’s financial crimes investigator, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said the directorate would now decide how to proceed against Mallya and may seek his extradition from Britain.
“We will deliberate before deciding our next step,” he said.
The move comes days after India suspended Mallya’s passport at the request of the Enforcement Directorate, which had issued a series of summonses for the businessman to appear before it.
Its investigation relates to loans which the state-run IDBI bank made to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, despite allegedly knowing it was suffering financial troubles — leading the bank to sustain huge losses.
Mallya acquired his “Good Times” nickname before the 2012 collapse of the airline, which left thousands of workers unemployed and millions of dollars in unpaid bills.
The directorate has reportedly accused him of siphoning off money from Kingfisher to buy property abroad — a claim the company denies.
In a statement issued before the warrant, Kingfisher Airlines’ owner the UB Group said it was “shocked at the allegation made by the Enforcement Department before the PMLA Court”. “Multiple investigations have been going on since July 2015 and this allegation has never been made,” it said late on Sunday.
“In order to explain foreign exchange remittances, all of which have been fully accounted for, we will provide full details in the next few days.”