The letter, written on behalf of the consortium of lenders led by SBI, and dispatched earlier this month, urged the British authorities to expedite the fugitive businessman’s extradition proceedings as this was key to recovering dues from him, said one of the persons.
The missive is being seen as part of a collective effort by Indian banks, investigative agencies and other entities to put pressure on the UK government to hasten Mallya’s return to India.
“A letter was dispatched recently, urging the UK home office to expedite Mallya’s deportation since his return is crucial to recovering the money owed to banks,” said an official in the know. “This is part of the ongoing efforts to get Mallya declared bankrupt, as well as other actions that our agencies have taken.”
To a query, a SBI spokesperson said, “It is the policy of the bank not to comment on an individual account and its treatment.”
Indian Banks Working with UK Authorities
Mallya has maintained that Indian banks have repeatedly rebuffed his offers to “pay in full”. So far, banks have recovered nearly Rs 2,500 crore by selling shares and properties pledged by Mallya. Lenders have claimed that the beleaguered businessman owes them a total of Rs 9,000 crore, including interest and principal. Other banks in the consortium include Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda and IDBI Bank. Mallya did not comment. In April, the London High Court deferred hearing on a plea by the consortium of Indian lenders seeking that Mallya be declared bankrupt. Banks are trying to recover a loan of around £1.145 billion (nearly Rs 10,500 crore) from Mallya. They also want to be declared ‘secured lenders’ in the UK — a key step toward recovering money from the businessman’s overseas assets. Top officials said Indian banks are working closely with the UK authorities to recover as much as they can out of Mallya’s assets. “The banks’ move to send a letter to the UK government through the British High Commission is part of the collective efforts to recover dues,” said a legal source. “We cannot say if it is at the behest of the regulators or an effort by the consortium members themselves, as they have been following up with UK regulators and the home office for a long time.” In response to a query from ET, the British High Commission said: “We do not comment on individual cases and have no further comment in line with longstanding policy.”
Mallya has only two possible legal remedies left with him: One is to seek asylum, and the other is to approach the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). While the ECHR is yet to officially receive an application from Mallya, top lawyers close to the developments said this is imminent as the high court’s recent judgment allowing his extradition is in violation of certain human rights that the ECHR protects.