India has approached Interpol for issuance of an arrest warrant against liquor baron Vijay Mallya in connection with a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The development comes in the backdrop of Britain recently declining India’s request to deport the businessman from there.
Officials said The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has forwarded a request in this regard to the global police after its sister probe agency ED sought a Red Corner Notice (RCN) against the beleaguered businessman to make him join the investigation. CBI acts as the nodal office for execution of Interpol warrants in India.
An RCN is issued “to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action” in a criminal case probe.
Once the notice has been issued, the Interpol seeks to arrest the person concerned in any part of the world and notifies that country to take his or her custody for further action.
The Enforcement Directorate has been trying to make Mallya join investigation “in person” in the over Rs 9000 (£1.08 billion) crore IDBI loan fraud case in which it had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) early this year.
It has almost exhausted all legal options to make Mallya join the probe including issuance of a non-bailable warrant against him by a Mumbai court based on which it made the request for revocation of his passport and subsequently sought his deportation.
However, Britain has made it clear that Mallya cannot be deported and asked India to seek his extradition instead. The British government said it acknowledges “the seriousness of allegations” against Mallya and was “keen to assist” the Indian government in this case.
ED is also mulling attaching domestic assets and shares worth about Rs 9,000 crore (£1.08 billion) owned by Mallya in this case.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Wednesday said in Parliament that India will now have to initiate extradition process after a charge sheet is filed to bring back the embattled tycoon to face money laundering charges and to recover Rs 9,400 crore (£1.1 billion extended as loan to his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines by banks on which he has defaulted.
Cancellation of passport “does not result in automatic deportation, that is the stand taken by UK,” Jaitley had said.
Officials, however, had said filing a charge sheet is a time-consuming process and hence some other legal options will be explored to make Mallya join probe in India being conducted not only by ED but also the CBI.
Mallya had left India on March 2 using his diplomatic passport.
The ED has registered a money laundering case against Mallya and others based on an FIR registered last year by the CBI. The agency is also investigating the financial structure of Kingfisher Airlines and looking into whether kickbacks had been paid to secure loans