Businessman Vijay Mallya, undergoing an extradition trial in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges by Indian authorities, on Tuesday lost a lawsuit filed by 13 Indian banks in the UK High Court seeking to collect from him more than USD 1.55 billion.
Judge Andrew Henshaw refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing 62-year-old Mallya’s assets and upheld an Indian court’s ruling that a consortium of 13 Indian banks were entitled to recover funds amounting to nearly USD 1.55 billion (1.145 billion pounds).
The order will now enable the banks to enforce the Indian judgment against Mallya’s assets in England and Wales.
The worldwide freezing order prevents Mallya from removing any assets from England and Wales up to that value or to in any way dispose of, deal with or diminish the value of his assets in or outside of this jurisdiction, up to the same value.
“Judgment is a very important decision not just for our clients, who want to proceed in this jurisdiction with enforcing the judgment they secured against Dr Mallya in India, but also for Indian and international banks more generally,” said Paul Gair, from UK law firm TLT which represented the Indian banks in the London court.
Gair also said that by dismissing Mallya’s application, “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. This case also sets a strong precedent for parties to secure a worldwide freezing order when enforcing judgments against wilfull defaulters”.
TLT acted for the Indian banks in successfully defeating two applications first, an application to set aside the first recorded case of a judgment of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in India being registered by the English High Court, and the second, to discharge an associated worldwide freezing order.
The firm had also acted for the banks in November 2017 to secure the registration and freezing order, which was successfully upheld on Tuesday.
The case is the latest stage in long-running litigation in which the banks are seeking to recover sums lent to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Limited, guaranteed by Mallya. The High Court judge has also refused permission to appeal on Tuesday ruling, which leaves Mallya’s lawyers with the only option of directly petitioning the UK’s Court of Appeal.
State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Corporation bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu &a 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 had moved against Mallaya in the UK court.
The UK court had earlier upheld the Indian court’s injunction and given Mallya’s lawyers more time to respond due to the ongoing extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, which is now set for a hearing on July 11.
Meanwhile, Mallya remains on a 650,000-pound bail bond since his arrest on an extradition warrant by Scotland Yard in April last year.
(With inputs from agencies)