Mallya, Kingfisher offer to pay banks Rs4,000 cr of dues

Vijay MallyaKingfisher Airlines and its promoter, business tycoon Vijay Mallya, proposed to the Supreme Court today that they will pay back around Rs4,000 crore of the outstanding dues to banks by September this year.

The proposal was submitted to the apex court in a sealed cover.

Mallya, who owes over Rs9,000 crore to a consortium of lenders after the failure of his airline, faces several cases from various state entities seeking to recover the money he owes to the consortium of 17 banks.

The SC has given the banks, led by State Bank of India, a week's time to respond to the proposal. The next hearing date has been fixed for 7 April.

The banks had reportedly turned down an earlier proposal by Mallya to settle for Rs2,000 crore, about a fourth of his dues, saying that such a small amount cannot be accepted.

The banks are also scheduled to auction nine trademarks belonging to Kingfisher at a base price of nearly Rs367 crore on 30 April. These trademarks include Flying Models, Fly the Good Times, Funliner, Kingfisher, Flying Bird Device, Fly Kingfisher (World), and others.

On Tuesday, the Central Bureau of Investigation said it will soon seek details of Mallya's offshore accounts. The agency is probing him for alleged bank fraud.

When his counsel was asked about Mallya's current location and whether he was back in India, the counsel replied that his presence was not needed in the matter.

Asserting that Mallya's proposal should be kept in a sealed envelope, his counsel said that negotiations with the banks are underway, but the media is exaggerating the issue, to which Justice Kurien Joseph observed that the ''media ultimately stands for the public interest''.

Meanwhile, the banks have told the apex court that they need time to review the proposal.

Earlier, the auction for Kingfisher House ended with lenders to the grounded airline failing to get any bids. The base price of Rs150 crore for the office at Andheri in Mumbai's western suburbs was reportedly "too high".

The Enforcement Directorate had earlier asked Mallya to make a "personal appearance" on March 18 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

But the flamboyant business magnate asked for a date in April, making it clear that he would not be able to appear before that.

Mallya, who is currently said to be in the United Kingdom and is being sought in India over charges of money laundering, claimed that the banks gave him loans after evaluating all aspects and asserted that he is not trying to evade the law enforcement agencies but is on a personal visit.