Loans totalling over Rs 8,000 crore were given to absconding industrialist Vijay Mallya during the tenure of the previous UPA government at the Centre, Parliament was informed on Friday. In response to a supplementary on the matter, Minister of State for Finance Santosh Gangwar, without naming Mallya, told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour that the loan of Rs 8,040 crore to the industrialist was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2009 and was restructured in 2010.
The loan, granted in September 2004, was reviewed in February 2008, the Minister said. “Our government has taken action against him (Mallya). He is currently living in the UK. Various agencies have issued summons to him. Following our requests, the Ministry of External Affairs has revoked his passport and we are taking action so that he faces justice,” he said.
He also said that of the 9,150 wilful defaulters of state-run banks till December 31, 2016, suits have been filed against 8,364 defaulters who had taken loans amounting to Rs 85,258 crore. Police FIRs have been lodged against 2,024 wilful defaulters who took loans worth Rs 29,557 crore. Action against 6,207 wilful defaulters have been taken under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, Gangwar added.
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Meanwhile, in a series of tweets last week, Mallya offered to negotiate with banks for one-time settlement of dues and sought the Supreme Court’s intervention. “Public sector banks have policies for one-time settlements. Hundreds of borrowers have settled. Why should this be denied to us? Our substantial offer before the Supreme Court was rejected by banks without consideration,” Mallya tweeted.
Mallya’s renewed offer came a day after the consortium of 17 banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) told the apex court that “he had taken it for a ride” and urged the apex court to initiate contempt proceedings against the business tycoon for “wilfully” flouting its orders.
Banks had previously turned down Mallya’s offer of Rs 6,868 crore in April 2016, to settle the dues that are in excess of Rs 9,000 crore, including interest. The loans were advanced to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines between 2006-2012.
The SBI-led consortium’s attempt to auction properties of the industrialist in order to recover loans made to his Kingfisher Airlines, failed again last week as these had no takers despite around a 10 per cent cut in their reserve price. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha last week that relevant agencies were trying to get Mallya back in India through the extradition or deportation route. “In the last two-and-a-half years, the government has taken a series of steps. Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, attachment orders against Mallya have been issued by the Enforcement Directorate. Assets worth Rs 8,040 crore were attached,” Jaitley had said.
The Karnataka High Court last week ordered a bailable warrant against Mallya through the diplomatic process, with the bail amount set at Rs 50 lakh for him to appear before the court. The liquor baron left the country in March 2016 and is currently said to be living in Britain.