India suspends passport of embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya over $1.9 billion debt

Embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya's diplomatic passport has been suspended by India for four weeks.
Embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya's diplomatic passport has been suspended by India for four weeks. PHOTO: EPA

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India has suspended for four weeks a diplomatic passport issued to embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya, who left the country last month, after creditor banks of his defunct Kingfisher Airlines stepped up pressure to recover about US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) in debt.

India's Foreign Ministry has given Mallya, a liquor baron who is also a member of the Upper House of Parliament, a week to say why his passport should not be impounded or revoked, the ministry's spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Friday (April 15).

"If he fails to respond within the stipulated time, it will be assumed that he has no response to offer and the Ministry of External Affairs will go ahead with the revocation," Mr Swarup said in a statement.

 
 

India's Enforcement Directorate, an agency that investigates financial crime, had advised that Mallya's passport be suspended, he added.

Mr Mallya has not revealed his whereabouts since his departure on March 2, but has said he was not an absconder.

The creditor banks this month rejected an offer by Mr Mallya to repay part of the loans to Kingfisher, and demanded that the former billionaire attend a hearing in India's Supreme Court.