NEW DELHI: Kingfisher Airlines chief and alleged loan defaulter Vijay Mallya left the country a week ago, the government today informed the Supreme Court, leaving the nation stunned and a horde of bankers Rs 9000 crore in the red.
"I spoke to CBI a little while ago and they told me that on March 2 he (Mallya) left the country," attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi told judges Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman.
As recently as Sunday, the baron had signalled defiance, rejecting allegations that he was a loan dodger or absconder. In an interview with the media, he had said would cooperate with the investigative agencies.
After the attorney-general's revelation in court on Wednesday, the bench issued a notice to Mallya and sought his response within two weeks on pleas filed by a consortium of banks wanting his passport frozen and his presence before the apex court.
The consortium of 17 banks led by SBI is seeking Mallya's personal appearance in court and an arrest warrant out for him.
Since Mallya has already left the country, probably to the UK, the notice will now have to be served upon the MP through several impersonal channels: Mallya's Rajya Sabha email ID, the Indian High Commission in London and also through the counsel representing him in various high courts, the Debt Recovery Tribunal and also through his company.
During the brief hearing, the attorney-general told the judges that Mallya owed more than Rs 9,000 crore to various banks. The judges asked how he was given such vast loans in the first place, which at that point of time was huge but now paltry.
Rohatgi admitted that the secured assets that Mallya pledged for his loans do not add up to even a fifth of the loan aggregate of Rs.9,000 crore.