A court in India set up under anti-money laundering laws declared liquor and aviation tycoon Vijay Mallya a "fugitive economic offender" on Saturday (Jan 5), paving the way for the government to seize his assets, according to Reuters partner ANI.
Special judge MS Azmi invoked the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, which was passed in August previous year, on an application by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to have Mallya declared a fugitive from justice.
The agency had requested the court that Mallya, now in the United Kingdom, be declared a fugitive and his properties be confiscated and brought under the control of the Union government as provided under the act.
The order was passed under Section 2F of FEOA against Mallya by the PMLA court. Here's an explainer on the new law: What is the new law under which Mallya has been declared a fugitive economic offender?
The ED had filed an application in July before the court, seeking the "fugitive economic offender" tag for Mallya under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018.
"Application is partly allowed".
"The hearing on the second part of the application that is for confiscation of properties mentioned in the application and the list annexed to the central government would be commenced from the next date", the operative part of the order said. He fled India for United Kingdom in 2016, where he faces charges of money laundering.
Mallya left India with owing more than $1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds which were availed to bail out his Kingfisher Airlines. If declared an offender by the Court, Mallya would also not have the right to contest it in court. Special judge M S Azmi allowed in part a plea filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) past year asking that the businessman be declared a fugitive economic offender.
Over the last few months, several high-profile businessmen including Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi have been under the government's radar for alleged financial crimes running into thousands of crores.
Under the new law, a fugitive economic offender is any individual against whom a warrant for arrest is issued for involvement in select economic offences involving amounts of Rs 100 crore or more and has left India to avoid criminal prosecution.
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