Warrant for Indian magnate Mallya withdrawn: reports
NEW DELHI: An arrest warrant for Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya over alleged bounced cheques written by his troubled airline has been withdrawn after the carrier agreed to pay the sums due, reports said Wednesday.
The Press Trust of India and other media quoted GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) as saying it withdrew its case against Mallya after his Kingfisher Airlines agreed to pay around $2 million owing in service charges.
“The case (against Kingfisher and Mallya) has been withdrawn,” The Press Trust of India quoted J.B. Chenna Keshava Rao, one of GMR’s lawyers, as saying.
“The matter has been settled by our client (GMR with Kingfisher)… They asked us to withdraw the case after which we informed the court about withdrawal of the case which has been agreed upon,” Rao said.
The court had also issued warrants last week against several senior airline executives in what was seen as dramatic escalation of the crisis facing Mallya’s cash-strapped carrier.
The warrants were issued after GHIAL filed a complaint over alleged bounced cheques totaling 105 million rupees ($2 million) for landing and other user fees at the Hyderabad airport in southern India.
The Economic Times newspaper on its website quoted another GMR lawyer as saying “the warrants issued against Vijay Mallya and other senior KFA (Kingfisher Airlines) officials were withdrawn”.
Mallya inherited his father’s beer business and built it into an empire spanning fertilisers, top European alcohol brands, Formula One team Force India and a cricket club, Royal Challengers Bangalore.
But the 56-year-old, who is also an independent member of parliament, has come unstuck with Kingfisher, which took to the skies in 2005 but never made a profit.
Reports that the case against Mallya had been withdrawn came after talks earlier on Wednesday between striking staff and Kingfisher over unpaid wages ended without an agreement.
The strike by employees, who have not received salaries for seven months, has forced the airline to ground all its planes since October 1.
The meeting in Mumbai “made good progress” but more talks will have to be held, likely next Monday, Kingfisher’s chief executive Sanjay Aggarwal said.
India’s civil aviation regulator recently issued a notice asking why Kingfisher’s licence should not be cancelled.
Mallya has been scouting for a foreign airline to pump in capital to keep Kingfisher aloft. But analysts doubt any carrier will want to take a stake in the carrier whose debts were estimated in a consultancy report at $2.5 billion.
The company was India’s second-largest airline until a year ago but just prior to the strike had a market share of 3.2 percent, making it the smallest.