Is missing booze billionaire hiding out in Hertfordshire?

By Christian Gysin

Vijay Mallya. Photo / Getty Images
Vijay Mallya. Photo / Getty Images

One of India's richest businessmen has left the country and is thought to be living in Britain as a string of banks chase him for almost £900m in unpaid loans.

Vijay Mallya, the former chairman of United Spirits, ran India-based Kingfisher Airlines until it collapsed in 2012 leaving thousands unemployed and unpaid bills said to be worth in the region of $1.3b (NZD$1.93b).

The businessman and industrialist, who was dubbed 'India's Richard Branson' and 'The King of Good Times', left the country before a number of state-run banks could apply to the country's Supreme Court to stop him. Last month brewer Diageo paid Mallya £63m to step down as United Spirits' chairman, which it bought in 2012, after accusations of financial irregularities involving the billionaire.

Mallya launched Kingfisher Airlines in 2005 and named it after his company's best-known beer. He also acquired a stake in the Force India Formula One racing team and owned the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team.

According to Forbes, his personal fortune reached a peak of £1.1bn.

But his airline had severe cash problem and never made a profit before it folded after a strike by pilots over unpaid wages. Last week in court, India's Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing 17 banks owed money by Mallya, revealed that the 60-year-old businessman had left the country on March 2.

Mallya said last month that he planned to move to Britain to be closer to his children and he is understood to regularly stay at a £3m, 30-acre property guarded by CCTV cameras in the Hertfordshire village of Tewin.

The court heard the state was not looking to take action against Mallya but did want him to settle his debts.

However, the banks stand little chance of getting anything back from Kingfisher Airlines as there are few assets left - apart from its former headquarters in Mumbai.

So they are hoping that they might get something back from Mallya's personal wealth - if they can find him.

- Daily Mail

- Daily Mail

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