By Sreenivasan Jain, BENGALURU: Banks to which liquor baron Vijay Mallya owes nearly Rs. 9,000 crores, loaned to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, received two installments of bad news today.
In the morning, the Centre told the Supreme Court that Mr Mallya, 60, left the country on March 2. A consortium of 17 banks, most of them state-run, had asked the top court to stop Mr Mallya from travelling out of India.
Then it emerged that more than half of a $75 million (Rs. 515 crore) settlement due to Mr Mallya from the British firm Diageo has already been paid. On Monday, a court had ruled that the entire settlement be put on hold while it decides whether banks have correctly claimed that they should have the first dibs on that money.
Diageo bought Mr Mallya’s liquor firm 3 years ago. Company spokesperson Kirsty King said, “We paid (Vijay) Mallya $40 million immediately as part of the $75-million agreement he signed with our company on February 25, with the balance ($35 million) being payable in equal instalments over five years.”
The settlement to Mr Mallya earned Diageo his commitment to step down as the Chairman of United Spirits, after months of acrimony and allegations of financial mismanagement against him.
Kingfisher Airlines became inoperational in 2012 after financial calamity. As it descended into huge losses, banks continued to loan it huge amounts, a mystery now being investigated by the CBI.
In a statement on Sunday, Mr Mallya said: “I have been most pained as being painted as an absconder – I have neither the intention nor any reason to abscond,” he said.
Though he remains an Indian citizen, Mr Mallya, a Rajya Sabha member, has been a UK resident for almost 28 years. (NDTV)
:: The Centre told the Supreme Court today that Mr Mallya, 60, left the country on March 2.
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