Contempt notice issued to Mallya after banks unable to locate his wealth

Apex court, after noting submissions by Attorney General, issues notice to Mallya and asks him to respond within four weeks on the plea of a consortium of banks

Updated - October 18, 2016 01:17 pm IST

Published - July 25, 2016 01:36 pm IST - New Delhi

A file photo of Vijay Mallya.

A file photo of Vijay Mallya.

Over four months after the Supreme Court ordered businessman Vijay Mallya to reveal his complete riches to banks for recovery of a total loan of over Rs. 6000 crore, the apex court on Monday stepped in once again on behalf of a consortium of 13 banks, who have collectively thrown up their hands in despair, unable to get even a whiff of the whereabouts of the liquor baron's wealth.

A Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F. Nariman served a notice of contempt of court to Mr. Mallya, who is believed to be in the United Kingdom.

The swift reaction of the court was prompted by the banks' submission that a disclosure statement of assets submitted by Mr. Mallya to the Supreme Court in April and passed on to the banks for aiding them in the recovery of the loan does not contain a “whisper” about the details, forms and locations of his assets.

“The disclosure is prima facie vague and lacks any material particulars... it is not practically possible for any person other than the alleged contemnor (Mallya) to identify the location of the properties,” Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the consortium along with advocate Robin Ratnakar David, said.

Mr. Rohatgi said “this gentleman” concealed that he had received a payment of USD 40 million out of a total USD 75 million (Rs. 515 crore) from British liquor major Diageo Plc following his resignation as Chairman of United Spirits Limited in February 2016.

The banks submitted that Diageo itself had on February 28 apprised the Debt Recovery Tribunal about the payment on February 25. They submitted that Diageo's memo before the tribunal traces the payment to an account maintained by Mr. Mallya with Edmond De Rothschild (Suisse) SA in Geneva.

However, the disclosure statement filed by Mr. Mallya of assets in his possession as on March 31 does not reflect this transaction of USD 40 million.

The banks urged that this action of “deliberate” concealment goes against the very letter and spirit of the court's direction on April 7 to Mr. Mallya to disclose all his assets.

Mr. Mallya accused the banks of trying to lure him back with appeals of a “negotiated settlement” when in fact they wanted to send him “straight to Tihar Jail”. He had called the wrecked Kingfisher Airlines a “bonafide business failure”.

Mr. Mallya had revealed to the court that the net estimated current value of the overseas assets of himself, his wife and children aggregate to $114.571 million or around Rs.780 crore.

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