London: Fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya is incorrigible. First, he said that he will comply fully with the UK court directive to seize his British assets; then, he had the audacity to add that there was not much for them to take as his family’s lavish residences were “not in my name”.
Speaking to Reuters at the British Formula One Grand Prix, Mallya said he would hand over British assets held in his name. But a luxury country residence belonged to his children and a house in London belonged to his mother, making them untouchable. He admitted to the wire agency that he had given the UK court an affidavit duly listing his UK assets, which they were free to take. “There’s a few cars and a few items of jewellery. I said ‘OK, fine. You don’t have to bother to come to my house to seize them. I’ll physically hand them over. Tell me the time, date and place.’ “
What could be more generous?
There is more bad news. Mallya said a super-yacht he would showcase in races at Monaco and Abu Dhabi was recently sold at an auction in Malta, after a dispute over unpaid crew wages. “I have not owned the Indian Empress boat for more than seven years now,” he lamented. It had belonged to “a Middle Eastern gentleman”, whose name he would not disclose, in a deal that gave Mallya use of it for one month a year, he said.
Mallya has been in Britain since he left India in March 2016, unable to travel after his passport was revoked. The Enforcement Directorate is desperately seeking to declare him a “fugitive economic offender” and to confiscate Rs 12,500 crore worth of his assets. “I think the overriding consideration that everybody seems to be missing is that I have put $2 billion worth of assets in front of the Karnataka high court which is more than sufficient to repay the banks and indeed everybody else,” he said. “So the question of attaching assets either in the UK or whatever should not arise.”
He said the enforcement directorate had also attached assets inherited from his father, including properties acquired in the 1920s, under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. “How can those be proceeds of crime? This is the injustice that is happening,” he said. ‘‘And now in an election year, I guess what they want to do is bring me back and hang me on the holy cross and hope to get more votes.” The lament goes on and on. It seems nobody is more misunderstood in India that Vijay Mallya.