More trouble for Vijay Mallya, UK HC calls 'fugitive from justice'

Major setback for Vijay Mallya

Major setback for Vijay Mallya

United Kingdom high court enforcement officers can now act to recover those debts from his assets in England and Wales. Now out on bail, he has been absconding in England since March 2016 and refuses to come back to India over fears of an unfair trial.

The victory for the banks, which claimed the businessman had wilfully defaulted on the loans accessed from them, will enable them to enforce the Indian judgment against Mallya's assets in England and Wales. High Court judge Andrew Henshaw QC said in a written statement, "There is a risk of the value of Dr Mallya's assets deteriorating, and, or, being subject to claims by other creditors, and risk of Dr Mallya being declared bankrupt". The tribunal had ordered the freezing of Mallya's assets all across the world.

"The sword of Tipu Sultan is an item of historic importance which Dr Mallya bought at an auction in 2003 for the equivalent of GBP 188,400 and states that he gave away in 2016 as his family members considered that it was bringing him bad luck", Judge Henshaw notes in his judgment. "Since these matters are unverified, I do not consider I can take account of them". 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 case is part of the litigation in which the banks are seeking to recover sums lent to Kingfisher Airlines Limited that were guaranteed by Mallya.

The ruling was the first instance of an Indian tribunal's ruling registered in the English high court, when it was recorded in November 2017. "There are provisions for his weekly allowance, within which he can meet his needs", he added.

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In dismissing Mallya's application to disregard the plea of Indian banks in courts, 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", said Paul Gair, partner at TLT, a UK-based law firm that represented the 13 Indian banks, including in securing the freezing order on November 23 past year.

With Parliament in India up in arms over Mallya having been allowed to flee India despite the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate investigations into his frauds at the time he moved to London, the Narendra Modi government has been relentlessly pursuing Mallya's extradition.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government, has claimed it has successfully established a prima facie case of fraud against the businessman.

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