VIJAY Mallya, former chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, said in an affidavit before the special court in Mumbai that he had left the country on March 2, 2016, along with a companion with ‘only five pieces of luggage’ between them and not 300 bags, as claimed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last week.
The businessman claims he left to raise funds with European entities to make a ‘one-time settlement’ with the consortium of banks in India which had given loans to Kingfisher Airlines.
The submissions were made on the ED plea to declare Mallya a ‘fugitive economic offender’ under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, to ensure his presence for the probe into the cheating and Prevention of Corruption Act case against him.
The court will decide on whether he can be declared an economic fugitive under the Act on December 26. This will pave the way for further action against him, including that the agency can approach court seeking permission to confiscate his movable and immovable properties, even before the beginning of the trial.
On Monday, Mallya said in the affidavit that the ED claim of him having left the country with 300 bags and a ‘huge cargo’, was “false and baseless”. “This is an entirely false and baseless contention. The fact of the matter is that I along with my companion departed on March 2, 2016, from New Delhi on Jet Airways flight 9W112 with only five pieces of luggage between us,” the affidavit stated.
Countering the submission of ED counsel DP Singh, that there was nothing shown to prove that he had attended any meeting in March 2015, Mallya’s lawyer Amit Desai told the court that he is attaching minutes of the meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland on March 4, 2016, at the World Motor Sport Council, to show his presence as the ‘titular member’.
Mallya has earlier claimed that he had attended the meeting as part of the “ordinary course” of his business activities, stating that the warrant in the criminal offence against him was only issued subsequently. Objecting to action against him under the Act, Mallya has said that he is not a fugitive, but is facing proceedings before the United Kingdom court on extradition to India.
Last week, the UK court has ordered that Mallya be extradited to India, but has given him two weeks to appeal the order before higher authorities.