The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will appeal in the Delhi High Court against an appellate tribunal’s order to release flats attached as part of an ED probe against fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya and Karnataka-based UBHL, the agency said on Sunday.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Appellate Tribunal in Delhi on Saturday ordered the release of flats owned by NRI Vivek Mathias and Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw in Kingfisher Towers, a housing project of Mallya in Bengaluru.
“The ED will soon appeal against the tribunal order regarding attachment of United Breweries Holding Limited (UBHL) assets in (about Rs 9,000 crore) bank fraud case against Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (now defunct) and its owner Vijay Mallya,” an ED statement said.
The ED said “it had attached UBHL’s properties after proper verification”.
During investigation before the attachment, the ED clarified, UBHL had stated, with respect to the flats at Kingfisher Towers, that “no sale deed was executed nor registered” with the registrar of properties.
“Thus, all the properties vest with UBHL. Accordingly, the same was attached provisionally and the adjudicating authority went through the evidence and confirmed provisional attachments,” said the statement.
The ED said that Kingfisher Airlines was a 100 per cent subsidiary of UBHL which had given a corporate guarantee on behalf of the airline for obtaining a loan.
“Investigations also revealed that substantial portions of loans obtained by Kingfisher Airlines was siphoned overseas under various pretexts. Therefore, UBHL being a corporate guarantor, its properties were attached under PMLA which allows for such attachments on the basis of value equivalent if proceeds of crime are not available,” the statement added.
The ED in 2016 registered an FIR against Mallya — currently holed up in the United Kingdom — UBHL and others under the PMLA. Consequently, the agency attached some properties belonging to Mallya and UBHL, including under-construction flats in Kingfisher Towers.
Mathias — a Monaco-based businessman — and Shaw, who heads one of the Bengaluru-based premier biopharmaceutical companies, had purchased some flats in the Kingfisher Towers, way back in 2012.
After ED seized their flats, they had approached the appellate tribunal seeking release of their flats.
The ED, however, had alleged before the tribunal that certain persons, including Mathias and Shaw, who were friends of Mallya, had helped him in money laundering by purchasing the flats.
But the tribunal on Saturday pulled up the ED for not complying with its statutory duties, slamming it for its failure in establishing any collusion of Mathias and Shaw with Mallya, and any evidence on record to show money laundering in the purchase of the flats.