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SC says it will pronounce contempt charges when Vijay Mallya is produced in court

LiveMint logoLiveMint 14-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that it would pronounce the sentence on contempt charges against UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya once he is personally produced in the court.

“We want you to produce him and as and when that happens, we will take this forward,” a bench headed by justice Adarsh Goel said.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, informed the court that steps to bring Mallya back to the country were underway and extradition proceedings had been initiated.

His personal appearance was sought on a plea by a consortium of creditors led by State Bank of India (SBI), which argued that Mallya had disobeyed court orders by making “vague and unclear disclosure of his assets” by transferring a $40 million payment from Diageo Plc. to his children and by ignoring summons to appear in court.

Contempt of court is an offence punishable with a maximum imprisonment of six months or a fine of up to Rs2,000 or both. SBI moved a contempt petition against Mallya in July 2016.

Mallya flew to the UK in early March last year as creditors closed in on him to recover Rs9,000 crore owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. He left after reaching a $75 million sweetheart deal with Diageo Plc. in return for him stepping down as chairman of United Spirits Ltd, once part of his family business empire and now controlled by the UK-based distiller.

The businessman said in November that he had gifted the $40 million first instalment he had received from Diageo to his three children, who are US citizens and sole beneficiaries of three trusts over which he claimed he had no control in his individual capacity.

The apex court directed Mallya twice—in April and October 2016—to disclose all the assets held by him and his family after banks spurned his offer to repay Rs4,000 crore to settle the debt of his Kingfisher Airlines.

In a 13 March statement, Mallya claimed that banks had already recovered Rs2,494 crore from Kingfisher Airlines since 2013. The airline, founded in 2005, was grounded in 2012 amid mounting debt and losses.

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