New Delhi: A Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai declared liquor baron Vijay Mallya a ‘fugitive economic offender’. With this declaration, Mallya became the first person in India to be declared as a fugitive economic offender. His properties can now be confiscated by the government.

As per a report by news agency ANI, The special PMLA Court refused his application to stay the order to give him some time to appeal.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed an application before the PMLA court, requesting to declare Mallya, who is facing charges of financial irregularities, a fugitive under the Act. “All the documents submitted in the Italian court were false, we have evidence for it. The probe has been fruitful. We have investigated how cash hawala circulated through multiple bank accounts,” the agency told the court.

Mallya, through his lawyer Amit Desai, had sought dismissal of the plea and termed the new Act as “draconian” in nature. Desai had countered ED’s claims that the liquor baron had left India for Geneva in March 2016 with “300 luggage bags” under the garb of attending a conference but in reality, he was escaping from the country. “The ED should find out from the airline provider how many bags he (Mallya) had before making such wild allegations,” Desai had said.

Under the provisions of the Act, a Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution. Once the person is declared a fugitive economic offender, the prosecuting agency has the powers to confiscate his properties.

Vijay Mallya has been charged by the ED of defaulting on bank loans to the tune of Rs. 9,000 crore. The 62-year-old businessman is also facing money laundering charges. A court in London has ordered his extradition to India earlier.