NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Thursday it had asked Britain to deport Vijay Mallya, the liquor tycoon who flew to London last month as bankers pressed him to repay about $1.4 billion owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The Ministry of External Affairs has written to the British High Commission seeking Mallya’s return so that “his presence can be secured for investigations against him” under India’s anti-moneylaundering law, spokesman Vikas Swarup told reporters.
The liquor tycoon and Formula 1 boss has not disclosed his whereabouts since flying first class from Delhi to London on March 2, leaving the Indian government and bankers red faced as they try to crack down on high-profile defaulters.
The foreign ministry last Sunday revoked Mallya’s diplomatic passport that he carried as a member of parliament’s upper house. The move was a step towards launching a bid to bring home Mallya, who is the subject of a non-bailable warrant issued by a special judge in Mumbai.
The Enforcement Directorate, a government agency set up to fight financial crime, has accused Mallya’s UB Group of using 4.3 billion rupees ($64.5 million) of bank loans to Kingfisher to buy property overseas.
Creditors, led by State Bank of India (SBI.NS), have rejected an offer of partial repayment by Mallya, who had given a personal guarantee for the Kingfisher loan. They have demanded that the former billionaire attend a hearing in India’s Supreme Court.
Mallya, traced by Indian reporters to a country residence in Hertfordshire, has said he would comply with the law.
The British Home Office, which adjudicates in such cases, declined to comment. A spokesman said its policy was neither to confirm nor deny that extradition requests have been made.
Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Douglas Busvine; editing by Susan Thomas