Indian Court Declares Mallya Fugitive Economic Offender: Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Vijay Mallya, the Indian tycoon fighting multiple cases in the U.K. after defaulting on bank loans, was declared a "fugitive economic offender" by a special Mumbai court under a new law, television channels reported.

Mallya is the first to be declared a fugitive under the new law, which gives authorities greater powers to seize and confiscate assets of economic offenders, according to CNN-News18 and India Today TV. The ruling comes on the back of Mallya losing a bid last month to avoid extradition to India from the U.K., where he is currently based.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been battling to contain the political damage after some 31 Indians linked to fraud cases fled abroad to avoid prosecution. With national elections due early this year, Modi is under pressure to act against wealthy defaulters as the nation’s lenders step up efforts to clean up bad loans, partly by tightening bankruptcy rules.

Mallya left the country in 2016 for England to be closer to his children and has since refused to return. He was arrested in London in April 2017 after a consortium of 17 banks accused him of willfully defaulting on more than 91 billion rupees ($1.3 billion) in debt accumulated by his Kingfisher Airlines -- a full-service carrier he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.