When tycoon Vijay Mallya lived it up, he was called the King of Good Times, a catchline he shared with his Kingfisher beer brand. Now, by his own admission, he is the poster boy for bank default.
Now a fugitive in London, he owes more than Rs 9,000 crore to a group of 13 banks. The banks have intensified their legal battle after he left the country in March 2016.
Earlier this week, Mallya released letters he had written to the government, offering to repay his debts by selling his assets.
Here’s a Metrolife look at what he was up to in these parts.
Studs and all
The United Racing and Bloodstock Breeders, owned by Mallya, took the Kunigal Stud Farm on lease in 1987. The 450-acre property boasts an equestrian history dating back to the 1760s, when Tipu Sultan set it up to raise his war horses. Mallya’s lease reportedly expires in 2022. A report says Mallya splurged Rs 9 crore of a loan to buy a horse.
Beer and flying
The UB Group under Mallya was best known for Kingfisher beer. It then went out and invested in aviation and other sectors. Kingfisher Airlines ran for some years, and its operations were halted in 2014 after it defaulted on its payments to the oil companies and staff. Its subsequently lost its licence.
Over the years, Mallya’s Kingfisher calendar was as famous for its photography as for the models in them. Many, like Katrina Kaif, Nargis Fakhri and Lisa Hayden, went on to become big stars in Bollywood.
Mahatma Gandhi’s glasses
In 2009, Mallya bought Mahatma Gandhi‘s belongings, including his trademark wire-rimmed glasses, a pocket watch, a metal bowl, leather sandals collected by California-based James Otis. Mallya paid 1.8 million dollars (about Rs 12 crore) even as the Indian government sulked and protested against the auction.
Playing with Tipu Sultan’s sword
After he bought a Tipu Sultan sword at an international auction for two lakh pounds (about Rs 18 crore), no one has heard about it. Some say he thought it was unlucky for him.
Car seva, formula seva
Mallya’s fetish for life in the fast lane is legendary. His fancy fleet included some of the world’s most expensive cars, such as the Rolls Royce Ghost, Rolls Royce Phantom, 1903 Humber, Porsche Boxter, Wolseley and Bentley Flying Spur.
Mallya bought a stake in what was previously known as Spyker F1 team for 90 million euros (about Rs 716 crore). Until recently, he retained the position of managing director on Sahara Force India F1 Team too.
Yacht meri bulbul
Mallya’s yacht Indian Empress has been seized by the European authorities over unpaid dues to his crew.
Cricket and nightlife
Mallya owned the IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore until 2016, when he resigned from the franchise. He had paid 111.6 million dollars (about Rs 767 crore) for it to buy the team. He made a splash by inviting big movie stars to the matches and after-parties.
UB City, built on 13 acres in the heart of Bengaluru, describes itself as India’s first luxury mall, and takes inspiration from the Manhattan skyline. Mallya’s penthouse, adjoining the mall, is coming up on a 14-storey luxury structure. Incidentally, Mallya got the road, earlier called Grant Road, renamed to Vittal Mallya Road in remembrance of his father.
What’s the legal view?
The Modi government is in no mood to accept Mallya’s offer of a settlement, reports on Wednesday indicated.
“Mallya can be jailed for wilful default. Considering the gravity of charges, even if Mallya seeks anticipatory bail, it will in all probability be rejected,” says Ashwin Patil, advocate for city-based financial institutions and banks.
If the banks have loaned him money only on the basis of his fame, they may also be at fault, he told Metrolife.