No legal basis for attaching properties, says Mallya

Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya has accused government agencies of pursuing a ''heavily biased investigation", questioning the rationale of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in going after the properties allegedly connected to the money laundering case against him.

Mallya, a former Rajya Sabha member and chairman of United Breweries Group, on Sunday strongly objected to the ED's move and the motives of the ongoing investigation into the Rs9,000 crore loan default by his long grounded Kingfisher Airlines.

In a statement, he said the latest ED move will make it difficult to raise money to repay the banks associated with the default.

"Most recent media reports and a tweet from the ED suggest that the ED have attached various properties belonging to myself and United Breweries Holdings Limited, which is a public company and not even the subject of any ED investigation,'' Mallya stated in a release.

''The assets purportedly attached under PMLA date back to several years prior to the launch of Kingfisher Airlines. There is no rationale or any legal basis for the series of actions initiated by the ED."

On Saturday, ED indicated it would attach properties worth Rs1,411 crore of Mallya and affiliated entities of the United Group, a holding company, in relation to the loan default and the money laundering investigation.

According to Mint, the properties in question include eight immovable properties, including apartments in Bengaluru and Mumbai, an industrial plot in Chennai, a coffee plantation plot in Coorg, a residential and commercial constructed area in UB City and the Kingfisher Tower in Bengaluru.

Last month, Mallya left India for the UK in the midst of the controversy, and has publicly denied accusations of graft and lashed out at the draconian methods of the Indian authorities aiming to recover money from him. The UK has said it will consider a request to extradite him, although it had earlier rejected requests to deport him.

In the statement, Mallya said the latest ED move appears to include "to approach the PMLA Court to declare me a proclaimed absconder for reasons that I cannot understand".

He has maintained that he left India on a routine visit to the UK, and at the time of his departure on 2 March, no summons had been issued against him.