A special PMLA court on Saturday declared Vijay Mallya a fugitive economic offender paving the way for the government to confiscate his assets.
Mallya now becomes the first tycoon to be named an economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018 – the new law that aims to prevent financial fraud.
The Special PMLA Court refused Mallya’s application to stay the order to give him some time to appeal. The request to declare Mallya a fugitive offender under the Act was filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) before the court in November 2018.
According to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018, a “fugitive economic offender” means any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a Scheduled Offence has been issued by any Court in India, who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
The law was signed by the President in August 2018.
The special PMLA court will hear the case on the confiscation of the properties on 5 February.
On 10 December last year, London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court ordered the extradition of the liquor baron to India, where the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines boss is wanted for alleged in financial irregularities and loan default amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.
Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that that there was “no sign of a false case being mounted against him”.
Mallya is wanted for loan default worth around Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of 13 banks led by State Bank of India (SBI). He faces various charges brought by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Department (ED).
The 62-year-old has been on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year, and the high-profile extradition trial had been going on since 4 December last year. A series of hearings have taken place in the last more than a year, though only seven days had been initially earmarked for it.
Following the UK court’s decision, the SBI had said that Mallya’s extradition to India will speed up the recovery of the loan amount.
“It (higher recovery of loans) is a possibility. The message is very loud and clear. What we have to understand is that it (extradition) is a message that you just can’t default and run away from the country,” SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar had told reporters in Mumbai.
ALSO READ | Vijay Mallya extradition: The case so far
Mallya had fled India on 3 March 2016 and taken refuge in London. India had sent the extradition request to United Kingdom in February 2017.