The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday moved court against liquor baron Vijay Mallya seeking to declare him a ‘fugitive offender’ and seize his assets worth Rs 12,500 crore. The agency filed an application before a Mumbai court under the recently promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance that empowers it to seize all assets of an absconding loan defaulter, said Officials.
Mallya is challenging these money laundering charges in London courts, which are part of India’s efforts to extradite him from UK and pursue the legal cases of overall alleged loan default of over Rs 9,000 crore of various banks.
The ED has furnished proofs in its two charge sheets, filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the past, to make a case for seeking a fugitive offender tag for Mallya from the court. As per the existing process of law under the PMLA, the ED can confiscate the assets only after the trial in a case finishes which usually takes many years.
The Modi government brought the fugitive ordinance as “there have been instances of economic offenders fleeing the jurisdiction of Indian courts, anticipating the commencement, or during the pendency, of criminal proceedings,” the government said.
The Union Cabinet on April 21 approved the ordinance and the President gave his assent to promulgation of the same a day later.
The ordinance makes provisions for special courts under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 to declare a person as a fugitive economic offender and order immediate confiscation of assets.
Cases of frauds, cheque dishonour or loan default of over Rs 100 crore would come under the ambit of this ordinance.
The ordinance offers necessary constitutional safeguards in terms of providing hearing to the person through counsel, allowing him time to file a reply, serving notice of summons to him, whether in India or abroad and appeal before the high court.
(with inputs from PTI)