Vijay Mallya, once one of India’s most prominent businessmen and a symbol of the country’s burgeoning economy. But today, he is a fugitive economic offender, facing charges of fraud and money laundering as he owes over Rs 9,000 crore to 17 Indian banks.
How did Mallya, a businessman, a member of parliament and the ‘King of Good Times’, known for his flamboyant lifestyle, which included yachts, private jets, and a luxurious mansion in Mumbai, went from being once one of India’s most high-profile individuals to becoming one of the most-wanted fugitives from justice in the country? Here’s a timeline.
Vijay Mallya : The rise
Vijay was born with a silver spoon in the family of Vittal Mallya, who was the chairman of the United Breweries Group, a conglomerate that included breweries, distilleries, and airlines. After completing his education in India and the United States, Mallya joined his father’s business and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the chairman of the group at the age of 28. He soon began to expand the company’s portfolio.
Vijay Mallya : Businesses Owned
Being the Chairman of UBG, he launched Kingfisher Airlines in 2005, which quickly became one of India’s leading airlines. He also acquired a stake in the Indian Premier League
Further, having been associated with several businesses, some of the most notable ones owned or co-owned by Mallya included a stake in East India Hotels and Whyte and Mackay, a Scottish whiskey brand he had acquired in 2007.
Vijay Mallya : The Downfall
Mallya’s fortunes began to change in 2012 when Kingfisher Airlines began to experience financial difficulties. The airline was heavily in debt, and Mallya was unable to secure further funding to keep it afloat.
A high level of debt, a shortage of cash flow, and an inability to raise funds to continue its operations led to a gradual decline in the airline’s operations and eventually to its shutdown. In 2013, the airline was grounded, and Mallya was forced to step down as its chairman.
Despite the failure of Kingfisher Airlines, Mallya remained a wealthy man. However, in 2016, a consortium of Indian banks declared Mallya a wilful defaulter, alleging that he had diverted funds from Kingfisher Airlines to other companies in the United Kingdom.
He was alleged to have used his position as the chairman of Kingfisher Airlines to secure loans from Indian banks, which he then transferred to his overseas accounts. He was also accused of using some of the funds to purchase properties in the United Kingdom.
Vijay Mallya : The escape route leading to the UK
In March 2016, Mallya left India for the United Kingdom, where he has been living ever since. In India, the government has been attempting to extradite him to face charges of fraud and money laundering. However, the process has been slow, with Mallya challenging the extradition in the UK courts.
The rise and fall of Vijay Mallya is a cautionary tale for all aspiring businessmen. It shows that even the most successful entrepreneurs can fall from grace if they fail to manage the importance of transparency and accountability in business. And from the state’s perspective, the need of the hour is for a robust legal system to ensure that.