Indian liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines has been accused of having defaulted on loans of over Rs 9,400 crore and faces legal proceedings, appears on the electoral rolls in the UK with his country home in Britain as his recorded address, a media report said on Sunday.
The 60-year-old, who strongly rejects any suggestion of wrongdoing and denies that he has deliberately absconded from India, has been living at a three-storey mansion called Ladywalk in the village of Tewin in Hertfordshire, just over a one-hour drive north of London.
According to ‘The Sunday Times’, Mallya confirmed that “my official address in the UK is at Ladywalk”, adding that he had supplied this information to the Indian authorities.
The 11.5-million-pound mansion was bought from the father of British Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton by a company with offshore links.
“The ownership structure of Ladywalk is perfectly legal,” the newspaper quoted Mallya as saying. The use of companies with offshore links to buy properties in Britain has come under increasing scrutiny as the practice can allow the real owner or beneficiary to remain hidden sometimes for tax purposes.
Such companies collectively hold up to 170 billion pounds of UK property, much of it in London and the home counties. British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to use an anti-corruption summit next month to demand more transparency on such future purchases.
Mallya, however, told the newspaper there was no “concealment or tax avoidance involved” and said that he has been a “British resident” since 1992.
The report notes that official documents list the owner of Ladywalk as a limited liability partnership called Ladywalk LP.
It has two members, including a company called Continental Administration Services, which is registered in St. Kitts and Nevis, a Commonwealth country in the Caribbean regarded as a tax haven.
A loan to finance the property purchase in July 2015 was made by the Edmond de Rothschild private bank in Switzerland. Official papers name the borrower as Ladywalk Investments, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, another tax haven.
Mallya has described an arrest warrant against him as “erroneous and unjustified” and has recently tweeted: “I fully respect and will comply with the law of the land.”
His passport, which had been suspended earlier, was also revoked on Sunday.
Mallya had left India on March 2. He has refused to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on three occasions when summoned between March 10 and April 2.
ED has said it will also seek an Interpol arrest warrant against Mallya based on a non-bailable warrant issued last week by a Mumbai court in a money laundering case.