Waiting to be auctioned off by tax authorities for recovery of their dues, the erstwhile ‘King of Good Times’ Vijay Mallya’s private luxury jet is reminiscent of his high-flying days- interspersed with plush sofas, a cushioned bed, bars, showers and even a bathrobe.
The 25-seater has also got portraits of gods inside while the exterior has got names of Mallya’s three children — son and two daughters — imprinted on the nose of the plane. His own initials ‘VJM’ form part of the name of the jet.
As banks seek to recover dues worth over Rs 9,400 crore in loans and interest from Mallya’s long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines, the Service Tax Department is trying hard to sell off his personal jet to recover its over Rs 500 crore dues.
The Airbus plane, grounded for over three years and gathering dust in a lonely bay at the Mumbai airport, is among the many properties of the businessman that are on the block.
Reflecting the personalised ways of Mallya, once known as ‘King of Good Times’ and often criticised as being flamboyant, the interior of the plane has also got at multiple spots the winged horse perched over the bold initials ‘UB’ — the logo of his UB group.
The pictures shared with the prospective bidders also show a bathrobe placed on a hanger inside a wardrobe. The Airbus A319-133CJ is on the block with the condition ‘As Is Where Is, As Is What Is, Whatever There Is and No Complaint basis’.
Auction of the aircraft, originally scheduled for May 12-13, has been postponed to June 29-30 as only one bidder turned up in the earlier attempt. Among others, the interested party is required to deposit a pre-bid amount of Rs 1 crore to participate in the auction, to be conducted by state-owned MSTC Ltd.
However, response to the proposed sales of Mallya’s other assets has also not been encouraging so far. Efforts of a consortium of banks, last month, to sell his airline’s erstwhile headquarters ‘Kingfisher House’ in Mumbai failed at the high reserve price of Rs 150 crore.
Also, there were no takers for Kingfisher brands and associated trademarks carrying a reserve price of Rs 367 crore. Meanwhile, lenders have also taken possession of the famous Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which banks say was pledged by Mallya as collateral for loans.
The banks so far have recovered over Rs 1,240 crore by selling shares and collaterals. Besides, more than Rs 1,200 crore is blocked in escrow accounts at the Debt Recovery Tribunal, Bengaluru, and the Karnataka High Court. In April, the embattled businessman had told the Supreme Court that he was ready to repay up to Rs 6,800 crore.
Amid mounting pressure from lenders on the loan default, Mallya left the country in March, presumably for the UK, and since then, authorities have been making efforts to bring him back. His passport has been revoked and there is also a non-bailable warrant against him.
He has been objecting to the ‘fugitive’ tag and said in a recent interview in London that he was in a “forced exile” and has now become “the king of bad times”.