Liquor baron seeks exemption from a Delhi court for personal appearance in a 1995 money laundering case
Seeking exemption from personal appearance in a Delhi court, liquor baron Vijay Mallya on Friday expressed his inability to return to the country and face trial as his passport has been suspended by Indian authorities.
The United Breweries chairman is facing trial in a 1995 money laundering case.
On July 9, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass had asked him to personally appear before it on September 9, after accepting the Enforcement Directorate (ED) plea to withdraw the exemption given to him from personal appearance in the case.
Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, appearing for Mallya, requested the court that some time be given to him so that his appearance can be secured.
In his application moved through counsel Ajay Bhargava, Mallya said that on April 23, 2016, his Indian passport was revoked by the ministry of external affairs and he was not even given personal hearing which he had requested for.
“…ever since the revocation of his passport, the applicant (Mallya) has been staying in London and is not in possession of any requisite travel document which could possibly enable him to travel to India,” the counsel said.
The counsel also said that Mallya had urged the court to allow him to be represented by his lawyer to continue with the final arguments and save the court’s precious time.
Public Prosecutor Navin Matta, appearing for ED, however, told the court that Mallya is already evading proceedings in several other cases and sought time to reply to the plea moved by him.
The agency said that Mallya was reported to be in the United Kingdom and his presence in the trial was essential and had sought court’s direction to him to remain personally present at every hearing.
The court has now put up the matter for further hearing on October 4.
Matta had earlier sought recall of its December 2000 exemption order as a PMLA court in Mumbai has recently issued an open-ended warrant against him in connection with a money laundering case.
According to ED, Mallya was summoned on four occasions for questioning in connection with a contract signed in December 1995 with London-based firm Benetton Formula for promotion of the Kingfisher brand abroad.
The court was hearing the final arguments in the 2000 case related to alleged violation by Mallya of provisions of the erstwhile Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) in arranging funds to advertise his company’s liquor products abroad.
According to ED, Mallya had allegedly paid $200,000 to a British firm for displaying the Kingfisher logo in the Formula One World Championships in London and some European countries in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
It had claimed that the money was allegedly paid without prior approval from RBI in violation of FERA norms.