India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is acting like a tough parent, trying to bring an errant child home. Vijay Mallya, the suave millionaire, had fled to England in March, leaving our oh-so-clever CBI red-faced. And he is not coming to India for the very reason that the ED has been threatening him with.
The chairman of United Breweries never seemed to care about anything, until March 2, when he flew from the Indian soil in a Jet Airways flight, flying First Class with nine full suitcases! The flamboyant businessman has ignored a series of orders to return to India to face investigations and his creditors.
When the Mumbai Court summoned Mallya, he wrote in a self-important Tweet: “I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish (sic).”
When ED’s coercive attempts failed to bring Mallya back to India, it went more aggressive, and now, asked Interpol to issue a red corner notice, which is similar to an international warrant. Britain, which has become a hub for refugees from Pakistan, Russia, and Libya, has refused to deport the liquor baron, citing that its hands were tied by the law of the land. Not to seem rude, they have promised to help with Mallya’s extradition though. Typical British politeness, I would say!
Mallya, whose passport was cancelled last month, is wanted in India for over a billion dollars in unpaid loans. New Delhi had formally requested London for the deportation of Mallya, which is faster than the process of extradition.
Taking the difficult parent-child metaphor a little ahead, Mallya resigned from the Rajya Sabha, stating that he didn’t want his name to be “further dragged in the mud”. An intelligent move from a smart businessman! He has saved himself the humiliation of being expelled from the Parliament.
Despite all the right noise from the Indian government about bringing the loan defaulter back, let us not forget that Interpol is a paper tiger. It merely stores information relayed by the participating countries about their ‘wanted’ criminals. Interpol does not have the authority to detain, question or investigate criminals.
In all probability, the red corner notice will lie in a corner, gathering dust. Mallya’s legal gurus will cite precedence of help got by Lalit Modi and act in similar way with Mallya. There’s no point getting the man here, because if he is imprisoned, the case will drag on for years, while officials inside the jail scurry around, fulfilling his demands for VVIP life.
While the ED is at Mallya, it would be wise to say that selling off all the assets of Mallya to recover the loan should be the priority of India. We don’t a pompous pauper, we would rather settle with the paying off debt, in whatever way possible.