Liquor baron Mallya, under pressure from banks, leaves India

Wed Mar 9, 2016 6:28am EST
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By Suchitra Mohanty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya, under pressure from banks to repay more than $1 billion of debt owed by his collapsed airline, left the country last week, a lawyer for the lenders told the country's top court.

More than a dozen state-run banks - led by the country's largest, State Bank of India (SBI.NS: Quote), - had appealed to the Supreme Court asking that Mallya be stopped from leaving as they step up pressure on the one-time billionaire.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the banks, told the Supreme Court he had been told by police that Mallya left India on March 2, and asked the court to demand his return. Mallya's exact whereabouts are not known.

The court has asked Mallya to reply to a notice issued to him within two weeks, after which it will hear the case again. Details of the notice were not made public.

Mallya, an extravagant, larger-than-life personality who billed himself as the "King of Good Times", has become one of India's most famous errant borrowers, with newspapers closely following the fortunes of his yacht, jet and properties.

The debt at the heart of his troubles is owed by his Kingfisher Airlines, but was personally guaranteed by Mallya.

A spokesman for Mallya's UB Group did not respond to calls and email seeking comment.

In a statement on Sunday, Mallya said he had no intention of running away from creditors and was in talks with them for a one-time settlement of the Kingfisher debt.   Continued...

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya speaks with the media after his meeting with Director General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan in New Delhi March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma