Indian investigators raid Kingfisher boss's home in loan probe

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched liquor baron Vijay Mallya's home and offices on Saturday, in connection with a probe into a loan granted by mid-sized state lender IDBI to his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

Saturday's raids are the latest in a string of investigations around the flamboyant Mallya, heir to United Beverages, which makes Kingfisher beer. His business empire previously included India's largest spirits company United Spirits Ltd , but he has since sold most of his shares.

Local media reported the CBI was questioning circumstances around the IDBI loan, worth around 9 billion rupees ($139 million) and granted by the bank despite the airline's negative credit ratings and well publicised financial trouble. Newspapers said the bank's decision violated credit limit norms.

A spokesman for Kingfisher confirmed CBI officials had visited UB Group premises in Bangalore, Goa and Mumbai in connection to the loan probe.

"The company co-operated with the officials and provided the necessary documents and will continue to offer co-operation," the spokesman said in an email. He did not comment further.

CBI officials were not immediately reachable for comment and a spokesperson for IDBI did not respond to an email seeking comment on Saturday.

The CBI's raids are part of a broader effort to investigate bad loans at public sector banks. Mallya's debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines stopped operations in 2012, but remains involved in multiple investigations.

Last month, India's financial fraud investigating agency sought information from United Spirits in connection with a probe into Kingfisher Airlines over alleged diversion of funds, CNBC TV18 had reported. The agency was looking into alleged financial irregularities from 2005, when Mallya's UB Group controlled both United Spirits and the airline.

(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Mumbai; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques and David Evans)


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