BUSINESSMAN Vijay Mallya cannot be termed a “fugitive economic offender”, as he was arrested in the United Kingdom and is facing an extradition trial there, his counsel claimed before a special court Friday. Mallya’s counsel, Amit Desai, is arguing against him being declared a “fugitive economic offender” under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act that has provisions for confiscation of property even before trial.
Desai submitted that as per the provisions, while the ED, which has sought for the action against Mallya under the new Act, has claimed that a warrant against him is not executed, his arrest in UK proves otherwise.
In October last year, Mallya was arrested in UK and immediately granted bail. Since December last year, he has been facing a trial in which Indian agencies have sought for him to be extradited to face charges, including money-laundering. In his reply to the plea, Mallya previously claimed that he had left the country on March 6, 2016, to raise funds with European entities to make a “one-time settlement” with the consortium of banks that had given loans to Kingfisher Airlines and that the Act cannot be used against him retrospectively.
Desai submitted that the ED had not been able to present any prima facie reason to believe that Mallya was a fugitive and that he was not absconding. Desai submitted that the ED was attempting to give an impression to the court that Mallya cannot be traced. ED’s counsel DP Singh, however, submitted that Mallya was already declared a proclaimed offender and despite that, the agency was not able to get his custody, which satisfies the requisite provisions in the law to declare him a “fugitive economic offender”. The arguments on the plea will continue on Monday.