Indian banks win Rs10,000 cr lawsuit against Mallya in UK
09 May 2018
Beleaguered Indian businessman Vijay Mallya has lost a UK lawsuit filed by Indian banks seeking to collect more than £1.15 billion (around Rs10,000 crore) amid allegations that he committed massive fraud.
High Court Judge Andrew Henshaw in London on Tuesday said the lenders, including IDBI Bank Ltd, can enforce an Indian court ruling that relates to allegations that Mallya wilfully defaulted on about $1.4 billion in debt for his defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. Henshaw also refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya’s assets.
“There is a risk of the value of Dr Mallya’s assets deteriorating, and / or being subject to claims by other creditors, and a risk of Dr Mallya being declared bankrupt. Dr Mallya’s departure from India, to where he has never since returned, and his resistance to India’s application to extradite him to face trial on serious criminal charges, provide some grounds for regarding him as a fugitive from justice,” the judgment said.
The judgement does not spell the end for Mallya, or his immediate deportation – experts reportedly said winning this lawsuit can at best be termed as another step against the corporate loan defaulter.
The 62-year-old is fighting numerous lawsuits in the UK and in India over fraud and money-laundering allegations. He was arrested in London more than a year ago and is waging another fight to block extradition in a different court about three miles across from the high court.
Henshaw refused permission to appeal Tuesday’s ruling, meaning his attorneys will have to directly petition the Court of Appeal. Lawyers for Mallya declined to comment after the hearing.
Attorneys at law firm TLT in London, who are representing the lenders, said the ruling will allow them to enforce the underlying judgment by the Indian debt recovery tribunal immediately.
The asset freeze order had forced Mallya to live on £5,000 a week, but his allowance was increased to roughly £20,000 pounds a week earlier this year, lawyers for the lenders said after the hearing.
Mallya was arrested in London 18 April on a warrant issued by Indian authorities accusing him of conspiring to defraud India’s IDBI Bank through a Rs9,100 crore ($1.4 billion) loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, which he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later.
Mallya left India in 2016, saying he was moving to England to be closer to his children. He has refused to return to India and said he fears an unfair trial amid the “media frenzy and hysteria” over unpaid dues.
Mallya has also said government agencies are pursuing a "heavily biased investigation" and holding him guilty without trial.