Does delayed FIR by CBI against Mallya help escape route?

NEW DELHI: A fresh case against liquor baron Vijay Mallya registered by CBI has raised controversy which itself helps escape route. CBI’s earlier plan, to file multiple charge sheets against Mallya under one FIR for his alleged loan default, of now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, with various banks of over Rs 9,000 crore, seems changed.    

The controversy arises as the CBI on Saturday registered a fresh case against liquor baron Vijay Mallya and also named as accused the company United Breweries Holdings Limited (UBHL) to probe the “larger conspiracy” to cheat the consortium of 17 banks led by State Bank of India.

The fresh case against Mallya covers the loan of Rs 6027 crore (approximately) from these banks between 2005 and 2010 but “deliberately didn’t pay while conspiring with group companies and promoters”, CBI says in its FIR. The loan amount along with interest now stands over Rs 9000 crore.

He is already being probed by CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the case registered by IDBI Bank for Rs 900 crore loan fraud, in which he has already been declared a “proclaimed offender” and an Interpol red corner notice request has been sent. The agencies are also trying to get him extradited from London.

Vijay Mallya, who fled to London on March 2 this year without informing the agencies and government, has refused to come to India and assist in the probe.

CBI registers in FIR that a consortium led by State Bank of India had advanced various credit facilities to Kingfisher Airlines between 2005 and 2010 for the purpose of running its airline business.

During 2009-2010, the company failed to meet its financial repayment commitment to the banks from where it had availed the loan. Vijay Mallya used a unique modus operandi where he returned some of the loan money to some banks to keep them happy so that they gave his companies further credit facilities.

“Kingfisher Airlines didn’t keep its account in the banks regular due to which they were declared nonperforming assets (NPAs),” said a CBI official.

The consortium of banks therefore recalled the credit facilities and also invoked the corporate guarantee of UBHL and personal guarantee of Vijay Mallya, said the officer.

CBI says “Mallya deliberately didn’t repay the outstanding amount to the banks”. It further alleges that “there was a conspiracy among the group companies and promoters and unknown persons to cheat the consortium of banks/lenders”.

The banks to which Mallya owes money include State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, IDBI, Bank of Baroda, United Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Corporation Bank, UCO Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, State Bank of Mysore, Punjab and Sind Bank, Axis Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, J&K Bank etc.

State Bank of India had an exposure of Rs 1,600 crore to Kingfisher Airlines while Punjab National Bank had an exposure of Rs 800 crore, Bank of India (Rs 650 crore), Bank of Baroda (Rs 550 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 410 crore) and UCO Bank has to recover Rs 320 crore, Corporation Bank (Rs 310 crore), State Bank of Mysore (Rs 150 crore), Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 140 crore), Federal Bank (Rs 90 crore), Punjab and Sind Bank (Rs 60 crore) and Axis Bank (Rs 50 crore).

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