Industrialist Vijay Mallya left the country the day public sector banks, to whom he owed over Rs. 9000 crore in loans, moved the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) on March 2, 2016 against him.
Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for consortium of banks, revealed this when asked by the apex court about the whereabouts of Mr. Mallya.
Mr. Rohatgi told a Bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman that he asked the CBI about Mr. Mallya, and in turn was informed that the Rajya Sabha MP had left Indian shores on March 2, the very day the banks approached the DRT.
Incidentally, the banks are before the Supreme Court with a plea to restrain him from leaving the country by ordering the seizure of his passport.
“There seems to be very little left for us,” Justice Nariman remarked.
“This is the information CBI gave me,” Mr. Rohatgi responded.
Mr. Rohatgi said the apex court to pass an order now directing Mr. Mallya to appear before this Bench, passport in hand.
“We are not behind his blood. We want to sit across him and get back our money. We want to settle the loans,” Mr. Rohatgi said.
Mr. Rohatgi said the “only information” is on social media sites, which show that most of his assets are abroad. “Only a fraction is in India… may be one-fifth”.
“Then how did you give these loans. Was there no secured assets on these loans?” Justice Kurian asked.
Mr. Rohatgi replied that at the time of the loans, Kingfisher Airlines was a brand at its peak, which had assets worth some thousand crores, and then “it crashed”.
“We had some assets (as security) for the loans advanced,” Mr. Rohatgi said.
The Bench then issued notice to Mr. Mallya through his company United Breweries Holdings Limited, his counsel, the Indian High Commissioner at the U.K. and via his official Rajya Sabha email address.
The court sought a reply in two weeks and fixed the hearing for March 30.
When Justice Kurian asked Mr. Rohatgi what guarantee was there that Mr. Mallya would be in the U.K. to receive notice, Mr. Rohatgi replied, “He has tremendous assets there. We know he would be there… most likely”.