One of Vijay Mallya’s flagship properties in Mumbai, Kingfisher House, is being auctioned online today. Mumbai-based Kingfisher House, the headquarters of the grounded Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines, will be auctioned today by a 17-bank consortium that the former liquor baron owes Rs 6,963 crores to. The base price for the office at Andheri in Mumbai’s western suburbs has been fixed at Rs. 150 crore. The consortium also took over Kingfisher Villa in Goa, which is worth around Rs 90 crores. On Wednesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation reportedly prepared official letters — letters rogatory (LR) — that will be sent to some foreign jurisdictions to get details of overseas properties owned by Mallya, who left the country on March 2. As part of its ongoing probe into the Rs 900 crore IDBI Bank loan default case, the CBI is planning to approach Britain, Mauritius, Cayman Islands and France, among other places, to get details and “documented evidence” about properties owned by Mallya. The letters will also seek information on Mallya’s associates and on Kingfisher Airlines.
The auction is taking place a day before Mr Mallya has been summoned for questioning as part of an investigation related to one of the bank loans. This move by the CBI will be a strategic step to expand the ambit of its investigation, as it will include other alleged wilful defaulters related to Kingfisher Airlines, a CBI official said on the condition of anonymity. “We are also focusing on finding out financial transaction details of Mallya and his associates,” the official said. Sources in the Enforcement Directorate, which has summoned Mr Mallya, say “it has to be a personal appearance, he can’t send his lawyer.” Mr Mallya is reportedly in the UK amid attempts to recover over Rs. 6,000 crore loaned to Kingfisher Airlines, which stopped operating in 2012. “I am not an absconder,” the businessman tweeted last week.
On a request from the banks, a court recently put on hold the payment of $75 million or 515 crores by Diageo to Mr Mallya as part of a settlement under which the liquor baron would step down as the chairman of United Spirits. Ranked the 45th-richest Indian with a net worth of $1 billion by Forbes in March 2012, Mr Mallya is known to have lavish homes in Mumbai, Goa, Delhi and also London. His flamboyant lifestyle also features a fleet of luxury cars and a yacht. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was targeted by the Congress in Parliament over the tycoon’s “escape”, said: “Every penny from Mallya will be recovered.” The CBI official said that even though Mallya owes over Rs. 9,000 crores to 17 banks, the CBI had registered only one default case — of Rs 900 crores involving IDBI Bank – against him because no other bank had approached the investigating agency so far. The Enforcement Directorate, which deals with foreign exchange violations and cases under the money laundering law, is also looking into the same IDBI default by Mallya.