Vijay Mallya has elite company: Nafed, a Union government agency, too, is a fellow wilful defaulter on the list published by the Punjab National Bank (PNB).
The list of defaulters was published by the bank last month.
A number of government agencies, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the enforcement directorate, are on the trail of the Kingfisher founder.
National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India, or Nafed, a six-decade-old autonomous body under Union Ministry of Agriculture, figures at number 218 on the list, about 150 places below Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines.
Under the column "Director Name", where Mallya is named along with other Kingfisher directors, the corresponding entry for the Nafed is "Government of India Undertaking".
The Nafed has outstanding dues of Rs 224.26 crore as of February 15. Like Kingfisher, proceedings have been initiated under the Sarfaesi Act, the list showed.
The Nafed's board is populated representatives of various cooperatives and federations, who are usually politicians and those with political connections. Its chairman is elected, while its managing director, who manages the day-to-day affairs, is an IAS officer appointed by the central government.
V R Patel, the chairman of Nafed, directed calls to his secretary, who in turn directed the call to Anil Kumar Singh, general manager, finance, Nafed.
Singh said, "We are an autonomous body under the ministry of agriculture. We have taken some loans and are not able to repay. That's why we are on the willful defaulters' list. The ministry is taking up the matter with the banks and the department of financial services (under the Ministry of Finance) for an OTS (one-time settlement)."
According to him, apart from Rs 224 crore due to PNB, the body has dues with seven other PSBs totalling Rs 1,700 crore.
"The OTS could be for around Rs 480 crore," said Singh, adding that the discussions for OTS are at an advanced stage and an agreement is likely soon. These loans pertain to public-private partnership projects that the Nafed had got involved in many years ago.
A PNB spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comments.
The Nafed, a multi-state cooperative with several state-level cooperatives as members, slumped into financial crisis as many private sector associates scooted with money invested in tie-up businesses in 2003-04.
A probe committee under former High Court judge R R Mishra had found that top officials with their "notorious tie-ups" with some private businesses made the Nafed extend counter guarantees on loans taken by them without any security, with the connivance of a few board members.
Nearly 30 companies were said to have turned defaulters for an amount estimated at over Rs 3,900 crore, according to news reports of that time.
In 2008, the Nafed had argued before the Central Information Commission (CIC) that it was not a pubic authority under the RTI Act. The agriculture ministry had said in its submission: "There is no shareholding of the central government in the Nafed nor does the central government provide any grants for its commercial operations."
However, the CIC decided that it was a public authority. The decision was later upheld in Delhi High Court, too
"The market intervention schemes affect a large number of farmers all over the country. It has bearing on the vast market of agricultural commodities. It affects the way the agricultural commodities market behaves. The Nafed plays a central role in this context. The cumulative effect of these factors goes to show that there is control over the activities of the Nafed by the central government. Further, even if at a given point in time there is no tangible, visible control, the structure of an MSCS like the Nafed is such that it is always amenable to government control," the court said in its judgement in May 2010.