UK court lets Indian banks search, seize tycoon Mallya’s properties – media

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Vijay Mallya arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

NEW DELHI – A consortium of Indian banks can search and seize the properties of Indian businessman Vijay Mallya in Britain, media reports said on Thursday, citing the decision of a British court.

India wants to extradite Mallya from Britain on fraud charges and to help nearly a dozen Indian banks recover loans granted to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the tycoon, co-owner of the Force India Formula One motor racing team, fled to Britain in March 2016.

The case against Mallya centres on a series of loans Kingfisher obtained from Indian banks, and in particular from state-owned IDBI. Indian banks want to recover more than $1 billion that Indian authorities say Kingfisher owes.

The British court order allows the UK High Court Enforcement Officer to enter Mallya’s properties in Britain, giving a legal option to Indian banks to try and recover the dues, media reports said, citing the court decision.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the court decision.

Separately, the Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, has filed an application to seek to declare Mallya a “fugitive economic offender” and sought to confiscate 125 billion rupees ($1.8 billion) worth of his assets.

In a statement issued last week, Mallya said he was trying to sell assets worth about $2.04 billion to repay creditors.

Mallya, who denies the charges against him, said any objection by the Enforcement Directorate or India’s federal police to his proposals to sell assets “will clearly demonstrate that there is an agenda against me beyond recovery of dues to Public Sector Banks.”

“I have become the ‘Poster Boy’ of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger,” Mallya said in his statement last week.

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