The investigation in the multi-crore bank fraud involving fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya has widened after the Enforcement Directorate detected unaccounted transfer of funds by his former executive assistant V Shashikant.
Based on an intelligence input, the ED raided the residential and business premises of Shashikant on July 24. He was an employee of Vijay Mallya till February 2017 and a former Managing Director of United Breweries Holdings Ltd (UBHL).
The investigation revealed that UBHL exported Kingfisher beer and shoes manufactured by United Breweries International Trading Limited and was liquidated after Kingfisher Airlines defaulted on loan repayment of about over Rs 7,000 crore to banks.
UBHL owned 10.72 percent stake in United Breweries Ltd (UBL). Heineken, a Dutch brewing company, now owns over 46 percent stake in UBL.
After Mallya stepped down from the board of UBL in October 2017, Shashikant set up a firm called United Branding Worldwide in Bengaluru in which his wife Jayanti Shashikanth and daughter Archita are partners.
"It has been detected that this partnership firm has taken over the business of UBHL for exporting both kingfisher beer and shoes and export turnover is approximately Rs 220 crore per annum," said an ED official.
The firm has monopolistic rights for exporting and trading all brands of Kingfisher beer since March 2018.
"One interesting fact has also come to the notice that 60% of export by UBG has made to M/s Tammy International Dubai which in turn exporting beer to other countries," the ED official added. Tammy International is allegedly owned by Shashikant's son-in-law.
Ultimate Branding is allegedly getting a commission from UBL for "getting business" and the profit is being "repatriated" to Mallya through "overlapping transactions" to fund his "daily maintenance and legal expense".
"I have never heard of Tammy International and have no connection with them," Mallya told The Indian Express in an email response.
"We acknowledge that the Enforcement Directorate searched the offices of Ultimate Branding Worldwide. We have extended full support to them and shall continue to do so. We deny the allegation that the two companies are associated with Vijay Mallya nor do they have any transactions with him," said a spokesperson of Ultimate Branding.
Various incriminating documents, emails and WhatsApp messages were seized during the raid in Shashikant's office, which indicate that V Shashikant was is in regular touch with Mallya.
The ED also found that Mallya's dummy companies - Gold Reef Investments Ltd and McDowell Holdings Ltd - support 20 to 25 employees of UB Group. The agency has frozen shares worth Rs 3 crore held by McDowell Holdings Limited.
Mallya owes a consortium of 17 Indian banks more than Rs 9,000 crore. The businessman fled India and moved to London in March 2016 and has been declared a fugitive economic offender by a court in Mumbai. India has also requested Mallya's extradition from UK.
He recently filed a petition which said that only properties of Kingfisher Airlines should be seized. The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on August 2 his plea challenging the confiscation of properties belonging to the companies.