Lenders file counter petition to UBHL's Rs594-cr compensation claim

A lenders consortium led by State Bank of India (SBI) today filed a counter petition to the objections raised by Vijay Mallya-controlled Unted Breweries (Holdings) Limited (UBHLs) against cheap sale of equity shares of United Spirits Ltd (USL) by lenders, which, the company claims, has resulted in losses of Rs594 crore .

The lenders' filed counter-objections in the debt recovery tribunal (DRT), Bengaluru, against a UBFL's claim of Rs594 crore loss, alleging that claims made by Mallya-controlled UBHL at this stage, when the case was on the verge of disposal, was only intended to delay the process of justice.

DRT presiding officer Justice CR Benakanahalli admitted the lenders' counter-objections and posted the matter for further hearing to 21 April.

UBHL, in its objections filed before the Debt Recovery Tribunal on 5 April, had contended that the lenders had sold 2.6 million equity shares of United Spirits Limited (USL) pledged to them before maturity.

The company pointed out that lenders' opted to sell USL shares at Rs1,836.94 per share, instead of selling these when the shares hit a high of Rs4,080 per share in April last year.

Lender banks in their submission sought direction from the DRT to UBHL asking it to substantiate its claim of Rs594 crore loss with documents of proof and evidence.

The bankers also filed two petitions seeking extension of DRT's 7 March order, barring Mallya from withdrawing $75 million exit payout by it under a Diageo-USL sweetheart deal till the disposal of SBI's case against Mallya.

The banks also filed an application seeking attachment of the sale proceedings of Mallya's private aircraft parked at Mumbai airport by the Service Tax Department, which is set for auction on 12-13 May to recover dues estimated to be nearly Rs 535 crore.

The service tax department had, last month, had claimed in a petition to the Bombay High Court that Mallya's total disputed liability in respect of service tax was to the tune of Rs535 crore.

The petitioners also claimed that Mallya had collected a large sum of money as service tax from flyers of the now-grounded Kingfisher Airlines on behalf of the government, but not deposited it in the government treasury.

The now-defunct group company Kingfisher Airlines owes over Rs 9,000 crore to 17 banks, and Mallya, who had left the country on 2 March, is believed to be in the UK.