Indian businessman Vijay Mallya has told the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court that “he was not a fugitive economic offender” (FEO) under the Act and not involved in the scheduled offence of money laundering.
The Hindu has a copy of the reply filed by Mr. Mallya through senior counsel Amit Desai that reads, “He has neither absconded nor concealed himself from the due process of law either in India or in the United Kingdom. In fact his address is known to authorities of both countries.”
On November 19, 2016 and July 5, 2017, non bailable warrants were issued against him and on April 21, 2018, the Act came into existence. So, the crucial element of ‘knowledge’ with regards to allegedly committing an ‘offence’ of being an alleged ‘fugitive economic offender’ under the Act is missing. Therefore, it cannot be attributed retrospectively and is prima facie violative his fundamental rights.”
“Mr Mallya has been co-operating with authorities in United Kingdom (UK) for extradition proceedings and has submitted himself to the jurisdiction and process of UK courts — a process invoked by India.
“ It is therefore, false to contend that he ‘refuses to return to India’ while he remains in custody of UK court in ongoing extradition proceedings.”
“Over the last two to three years, efforts have been made to repay the public sector banks. Instead of taking steps to facilitate the process of repayment of the banks, the ED has resisted this at every step.”
Punching holes in the application filed by the ED, Mr Mallya has said, “Apart from giving a list of assets sought to be confiscated, the agency does not give any particulars as to whether these assets are capable of being confiscated in accordance with the FEO. Any confiscation of property without determination of commission of a scheduled offence in relation to the offence would be violative of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.”
On Monday, Mr Desai, objected to the confiscation of assets and said that the pleas filed by 15 intervenors in the case need to address first and then any arguments can be made on the declaration of being fugitive. However, ED’s Hiten Venegavkar said that it is important to first decide on the fugitive part. Special Judge Salman Azmi has posted the matter to be heard on September 28.
On June 22, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed an application at the PMLA court to declare him a fugitive economic offender and sought orders to confiscate all his properties estimated to be around ₹12,500 crore. On June 30, the PMLA court took cognizance of the application filed by the agency.
This is the first case under the new law. The agency has filed two separate complaints registered under PMLA for investigation of money laundering against Mr. Mallya Kingfisher Airlines Limited and United Breweries Holdings Limited and others. The court has taken cognizance of both the cases and issued fresh non- bailable warrants against Mr Mallya. He has also been declared a proclaimed offender and an “absconder” by court.