Indian liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya will comply fully with court enforcement officers seeking to seize his British assets, but there was not much for them to take as his family’s lavish residences were not in his name.
India wants to extradite the 62-year-old former liquor baron from Britain to face charges of fraud as a group of Indian banks seek to recover more than $1 billion of loans granted to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
A verdict is expected by early September, with July 31 the final date for closing oral submissions and appeals likely whatever the outcome.
Speaking to Reuters at the British Formula One Grand Prix, where he is principal and co-owner of the Force India team, Mallya said he would hand over British assets held in his name. But a luxury country residence belonged to his children and a house in London belonged to his mother, making them untouchable.
“I have given the UK court on affidavit a statement of my UK assets. Which, pursuant to the freezing order, they are entitled to take and hand over to the banks,” he said. “There are a few cars, a few items of jewellery and I said ‘OK, fine. You don’t have to bother to come to my house to seize them. I’ll physically hand them over. Tell me the time, date and place.’
“There’s no question of being homeless because at the end of the day, they are entitled to take my assets in my name declared on oath to the court. They can’t go one step beyond,” he said.
Mallya said a super-yacht he used for entertaining at races in Monaco and Abu Dhabi, which was recently sold at auction in Malta after a dispute over unpaid crew wages, was not his problem either.
“I have not owned the Indian Empress boat for more than seven years now,” he said. It had belonged to “a Middle Eastern gentleman”, whose name he would not disclose, in a deal that gave Mallya use of it for one month a year, he said.
Mallya has been in Britain since he left India in March 2016, unable to travel after his passport was revoked, so the annual British Grand Prix is the only race he has been able to attend since then.
The Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, is seeking to declare him a “fugitive economic offender” and to confiscate 125 billion rupees worth of his assets.>