April 18, 2016 / 5:21 AM / 3 years ago

India court issues arrest warrant against tycoon Mallya

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya talks to the media in the paddock during the third practice session of the Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A court on Monday issued a warrant for the arrest of tycoon and lawmaker Vijay Mallya, who has left the country with creditors stepping up pressure to recover about $1.4 billion owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The latest court verdict came after the Enforcement Directorate, a government agency fighting financial crime, accused Mallya’s UB Group of using 4.3 billion rupees ($65 million) of bank loans to Kingfisher Airlines to buy property overseas.

Mallya, a liquor baron and a lawmaker, has been at an unknown location after leaving India on March 2. Media reports have traced him to the Hertfordshire village of Tewin, north of London, where he owns a house.

The UB Group on Sunday denied the Enforcement Directorate’s allegations, calling the basis of the warrant against Mallya “erroneous and unjustified”.

The court issued the non-bailable warrant just days after the Indian government suspended the diplomatic passport of Mallya, once called the “King of Good Times” for his extravagant lifestyle. It said the passport would be revoked if he did not respond within a week.

Creditor banks this month rejected an offer of partial repayment by Mallya, who had given a personal guarantee for the Kingfisher loan, and have demanded that the former billionaire attend a hearing in India’s Supreme Court.

Mallya, a member of the upper house of India’s parliament who co-owns Britain-based motor racing team Force India, has not revealed his whereabouts since his departure on March 2, but has said he has not absconded.

($1 = 66.6825 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Stephen Coates and Richard Balmforth

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