New Delhi / AFP
Indian banks will strive to recover “every penny” from the troubled Kingfisher chief, who left the country owing more than $1 billion, the finance minister said on Thursday, as warnings sound over a mounting bad debt problem.
More than a dozen lenders are chasing Vijay Mallya, dubbed the King of Good Times, for 90 billion rupees ($1.34 billion) in unpaid loans, but he left the country on March 2 despite calls for his arrest.
“Every government agency, whether it’s the taxation department or the investigative agencies, wherever he has violated the law, is going to take strong action,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told a conference organised by India Today television channel in New Delhi.
“As far as the banks are concerned… I’ve been briefed that they are going all out to recover every penny of the last rupee that they can.”
The businessman’s massive debt has become a symbol of Indian banks’ vast volume of bad loans — meaning in default or close to it — seen as a threat to financial stability in Asia’s third-largest economy.