More woes for Mallya: UK HC orders $90 mn payment to plane leasing firm

Embattled Indian businessman Vijay Mallya has lost another legal battle as the UK High Court on Monday ordered entities formerly controlled by him to pay around $90 million to a Singapore-based aircraft leasing company in claims.

The case involves aircraft leased by the embattled former liquor baron's defunct Kingfisher Airlines from BOC Aviation in 2014.

This is the latest case involving the 62-year-old businessman, whose extradition case over alleged loan defaults amounting to around Rs9,000 crore returns to Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on 16 March.

Justice Picken, sitting at the Business and Property Courts of the High Court, ruled on 5 February the "defendants have no real prospect of successfully defending the claim" brought by BOC Aviation in Singapore and BOC Aviation (Ireland) Ltd.

Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and United Breweries Ltd were listed as the defendants in the case.

''We are pleased with the judgment but would not like to comment further at this stage,'' said a spokesperson for BOC Aviation in Singapore.

The claim relates to a leasing agreement between Kingfisher Airlines and BOC Aviation involving four planes, of which three were delivered. The delivery of the fourth was reportedly withheld due to unpaid advances under the lease arrangement.

BOC Aviation claims that the security deposit, which is a course of redress in such matters, was also inadequate to cover the payments that Kingfisher was ''contractually bound'' to make, resulting in the claim in the high court in London.

In his order, Justice Picken awarded BOC Aviation the amount overdue along with interest and legal costs, which together amounts to nearly $90 million.

''The Second Defendant [United Breweries] shall be jointly and severally liable with the First Defendant [Kingfisher Airlines] to pay the Claimants [BOC Aviation] half of the said costs liability,'' the court order says.

There was no immediate response available from Kingfisher or Mallya.

In November Diageo, the UK-based producer of popular liquors including Johnnie Walker whisky, sued Mallya, his son Siddharth and United Spirits Ltd for nearly $200 million for breach of contract and questionable payments made by affiliated companies, among other claims.

Mallya, 62, is currently in the midst of an extradition trial at Westminster Magistrate's Court in London for allegedly defaulting on more than Rs9000 crore ($1.4 billion) taken by Kingfisher Airlines from a consortium of banks.

It was reported earlier this week that United Spirits is selling its corporate headquarters in Bangalore as it attempts to monetise assets and disassociate itself from the legacy of its former owner.

It was also reported that the company is trying to sell a number of lavish personal properties, including villas in Mumbai, Goa and Delhi, though with little success.