India Suspends Tycoon Mallya's Passport as Bankers Chase Payment

  • Mallya's diplomatic passport suspended for four weeks
  • Foreign ministry acted on advice of investigating agency

India suspended tycoon Vijay Mallya’s diplomatic passport for four weeks on the advice of a government investigating agency.

The nation’s Enforcement Directorate advised the foreign ministry to act, the latter’s spokesman Vikas Swarup said in a Twitter post. Mallya has been asked to respond within one week on why his passport shouldn’t be impounded or revoked, according to the statement.

Mallya is a member of India’s upper house of parliament, entitling him to diplomatic papers, and said in February that he’d spend more time in England to be closer to his children.

Sumanto Bhattacharya, a spokesman for Mallya and his UB Group, declined to comment.

The Enforcement Directorate enforces foreign exchange and anti-money laundering laws, according to its website.

The Attorney General informed the Supreme Court last month that Mallya had left the country, one of many twists in a saga over $1.4 billion owing from the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

Creditors

Indian creditors turned down a settlement offer by the ex-billionaire this month and the Supreme Court gave him until April 21 to declare all his assets.

A group of 17 lenders had tried to prevent Mallya’s departure. The opposition has criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for Mallya’s absence from the courts. Bankers in Asia’s No. 3 economy are grappling with its worst bad-debt pile up in more than a decade.

Mallya has sparred with local media for portraying him as the symbol of soured loans in India. He’s maintained Kingfisher Airlines was an “unfortunate commercial failure” caused by macroeconomic factors and government policies.

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