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Indian Court Issues Mallya Arrest Warrant

An Indian court has issued a warrant for the arrest of tycoon Vijay Mallya, who has left the country with creditors stepping up pressure to recover about USD$1.4 billion owed by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The latest court verdict came after the Enforcement Directorate, a government agency fighting financial crime, accused Mallya's UB Group of using INR4.3 billion rupees (USD$65 million) of bank loans to Kingfisher Airlines to buy property overseas.

Mallya has been at an unknown location after leaving India on March 2. Media reports have traced him to the Hertfordshire village of Tewin, north of London, where he owns a house.

The UB Group on Sunday denied the Enforcement Directorate's allegations, calling the basis of the warrant against Mallya "erroneous and unjustified".

The court issued the non-bailable warrant just days after the Indian government suspended the diplomatic passport of Mallya, once called the "King of Good Times" for his extravagant lifestyle. It said the passport would be revoked if he did not respond within a week.

Creditor banks this month rejected an offer of partial repayment by Mallya, who had given a personal guarantee for the Kingfisher loan, and have demanded that the former billionaire attend a hearing in India's Supreme Court.

Mallya, a member of the upper house of India's parliament who co-owns UK-based motor racing team Force India, has not revealed his whereabouts since his departure on March 2, but has said he has not absconded.