The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday said it had transferred to public-sector banks and the Central government assets worth `9,371 crore belonging to fugitive economic offenders Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
The agency has attached/seized assets worth a total of Rs 18,170 crore, constituting over 80% of the losses of Rs 22,586 crore incurred by banks due to the alleged frauds committed by these three businessmen. These also include properties worth Rs 969 crore located abroad.
Of these, assets worth about Rs 329.67 crore have been confiscated and those amounting to Rs 9,041.5 crore have been handed over to the PSBs (taking the total to Rs 9,371 crore), the ED said.
Meanwhile, Nirav Modi has lost the first stage of his extradition appeal in the London high court, just over two months after his extradition to India was ordered by UK home secretary Priti Patel in the PNB scam case.
Analysts said the move to attach assets was made substantially easier by the enactment of the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, 2018. The law empowers authorities to attach assets of such offenders who flee India to escape the reach of law even without a conviction.
Also, this law provides for the attachment of all the assets of the offenders, irrespective of whether these are the proceeds of crime or not. It covers offences with a value of Rs 100 crore or more.
The ED said it had recently transferred attached shares worth Rs 6,600 crore to a State Bank of India (SBI)-led consortium following an order of the PMLA Special Court, Mumbai. On Wednesday, the Debt Recovery Tribunal, on behalf of the consortium, sold the shares of United Breweries for Rs 5,824.50 crore. Further realisation of close to Rs 800 crore through share sale is expected by June 25. With its help, state-run banks had earlier recovered Rs 1,357 crore by selling the attached shares, the agency added.
After the cases were registered by the CBI, the ED unearthed “myriad web of domestic and international transactions and stashing of assets abroad”. “Investigation has also irrevocably proved that these three accused persons used dummy entities controlled by them for rotation and siphoning off the funds provided by the banks,” the ED said.
A substantial part of the assets in question was held in the name of dummy entities, trusts, third persons or relatives of these accused and these entities were their proxies for holding the properties.
Complaints were filed against all the three accused after the investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act was completed. Extradition requests were sent for them to the UK (for Mallya and Nirav Modi) and Antigua and Barbuda (for Choksi).
Already, the extradition of Mallya has been ordered by the Westminster Magistrates Court, which has been confirmed by the UK High Court. Since Mallya has been denied permission to file an appeal in the Supreme Court of the UK, his extradition to India is almost final, the agency said.
Choksi, who was recently discovered in Dominica after he disappeared from Antigua, is also facing extradition proceedings.