In a serious reversal for Vijay Mallya, a judge in the United Kingdom ruled in favour of a lawsuit filed by 13 Indian banks led by the State Bank of India hoping to collect approximately £1.15 billion ($1.5 billion) amid allegations of serious fraud.
The judge who oversaw proceedings said that the banks could enforce an Indian court order against Mallya, who has been accused of willfully defaulting on loans worth $1.4 billion (Rs 9,380 crore) for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
“Tuesday’s judgement by the commercial court (Queen’s Bench Division), dismissing Mallya’s applications, is expected to enable the banks to enforce the Indian ruling against his assets in England and Wales,” reports the Hindustan Times.
The poster boy for India’s current banking crisis (alongside the now-absconding Nirav Modi), the 62-year-old is battling many lawsuits both in the UK and India pertaining to money laundering and fraud. He is also taking on the Indian government’s apparent efforts at extraditing him from the UK.
Making matters worse for Mallya are reports that the court also dismissed Mallya’s request to appeal against the order. Now, he has little choice but to directly petition the UK’s Court of Appeal, which is second only to the country’s Supreme Court.
The UK court’s ruling is expected to aid New Delhi in their bid to extradite him. Extradition proceedings are currently ongoing at the Westminster Magistrates Court. The final hearing in the case is expected to take place on July 11.
“Today’s judgment is a very important decision not just for our clients, who want to proceed in this jurisdiction with enforcing the judgment they secured against Dr Mallya in India, but also for Indian and international banks more generally,” said Paul Gair, partner at British law firm TLT that represented Indian banks in this lawsuit.
“In dismissing Dr Mallya’s application, the High Court has demonstrated its willingness to recognise judgments granted by courts in other jurisdictions, giving parties opportunities to enforce their judgments against any assets held here,” he added.
In February 2017, the Ministry of External Affairs, February 2017, had submitted a request with the UK Home Office seeking Mallya’s extradition back to India. However, the former liquor baron who has been residing the UK since March 2016, has consistently refused to return, arguing that the “media frenzy and hysteria” surrounding his case will deny him the opportunity for a fair trial. He also accused the government of embarking on a “heavily biased investigation” against him.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)