UK court allows search and seizure at Vijay Mallya's properties
06 July 2018
The UK high court has allowed British enforcement authorities to enter fugitive Indian business man Vijay Mallya’s properties near London for search and seizure of documents related to the his business dealings.
The order grants permission to the UK High Court Enforcement Officer to enter the 62-year-old tycoon's properties in Hertfordshire, near London.
The enforcement order has been issued in favour of a consortium of 13 Indian banks, seeking to recover funds owed to them by beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya who is fighting extradition to India on fraud and money laundering charges worth nearly Rs9,000 crore.
While the order permits the officer and his agents entry to Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge in Tewin, Welwyn, where Mallya is currently based, it is not an instruction to enter.
"The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any enforcement agents acting under his authority, may enter Ladywalk, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn and Bramble Lodge, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn, including all outbuildings of Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge to search for and take control of goods belonging to the First Defendant (Mallya)," notes the order by Justice Byran, dated 26 June.
"The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any Enforcement Agent acting under his authority, may use reasonable force to enter the Property if necessary," it states.
Reports say the latest order by the High Court's Queen's Bench Division of granting permission is required while the banks consider "all the enforcement options available to them".
It marked the first recorded case of a judgment of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in India being registered by the English High Court, setting a legal precedent.
Mallya owes the 13 Indian banks, which include State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Corporation bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Punjab & Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co Pvt Ltd, an estimated Rs9,000 crore in overdue loans.
Mallya has made an application in the Court of Appeal seeking permission to appeal against the order, which remains pending.
Mallya, who is separately fighting extradition to India on fraud and money laundering charges worth an estimated Rs9,000 crores, had recently issued a media statement condemning the charges against him as politically motivated. He then took to social media to clarify that he made the statement "after a long period of silence" because he had filed an application before the Karnataka High Court on June 22, setting out available assets of approximately Rs13,900 crore.
"We have requested the Court's permission to allow us to sell these assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the Public Sector Banks such amounts as may be directed and determined by the Court," he tweeted.
"If the criminal agencies such as ED or CBI object to my proposal, and object to the sale of assets, it will clearly demonstrate that there is an agenda against me 'the Poster Boy' beyond recovery of dues to Public Sector Banks," he added.