New Delhi/Nagpur: Vijay Mallya went abroad last week, the government today told the Supreme Court, which had been asked by banks to stop the liquor baron from leaving the country.
“I am told by the CBI that he has left the country, possibly on March 2,” the government’s top lawyer Mukul Rohatgi told the court.
The Attorney General also said Mallya’s assets abroad are “far in excess to loans taken by him”.
The court has asked Mallya to reply within two weeks why his passport should not be impounded. A notice is being served to the industrialist’s Rajya Sabha email ID through the Indian High Commission at London.
Mallya had earlier said that he wants to move to Britain to be closer to his children.
A group of 17 banks had yesterday petitioned the Supreme Court to stop Mallya from leaving India because of the massive debt that his grounded Kingfisher Airlines owes them. They have now asked the court to call for his presence in the next hearing.
The creditors, led by the State Bank of India, stepped up efforts to recover around Rs. 7,000 crore in debts after Mallya last month resigned as chairman of India’s top spirits company United Spirits, a unit of UK-based Diageo.
On Monday, a court blocked a $75 million or Rs. 515 crore settlement between Mallya and Diageo, which requires the businessman to step down as chairman of United Spirits.
Kingfisher, once India’s second-biggest airline, stopped flying more than three years ago.
Once dubbed the “King of Good Times” for his extravagant lifestyle, Mallya is also confronting a money-laundering case against him for allegedly sending abroad Rs. 900 crore that his airline borrowed from a bank.
Mallya sold most of his stake in United Spirits to Diageo when his Kingfisher Airlines was grounded by debt and safety concerns, with its staff left unpaid.
Banks are set to auction a Kingfisher property in Mumbai this month.
The banking sector is grappling with a crisis over bad loans, which rose to Rs. 3.60 lakh crore for public sector banks in December. In the Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed the infusion of Rs. 25,000 crore into public sector banks.