Vijay Mallya May Lose Plush London Home Over Unpaid Loans: UK Court

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Vijay Mallya wanted to face charges of fraud and money laundering in India (File)

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London:

Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya today lost a legal battle to keep him in his luxurious London home after a British court refused to suspend his execution in a long-running dispute with Swiss bank UBS.

18/19 Cornwall Terrace Luxurious Apartments Overlooks London’s Regents Park, described in court as “an extremely valuable property worth many millions of pounds”, currently occupied by Malia’s 95-year-old mother Lalita.

Delivering his judgment for the High Court’s Chancery Division, Deputy Master Matthew Marsh concluded that there was no basis for giving the Mallya family more time to repay a 20.4-million-pound loan to UBS – the claimant in the case.

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Deputy Master Marsh ruled that “the position of the claimant was reasonable … there is no possibility of any material difference next time.”

“I will add from the review of my correspondence that I do not see any basis for suggesting that the claimant misled the first accused (Vijay Mallya) … In conclusion, I reject the application of the first accused,” he said.

The judge also denied permission to appeal against his order or grant a temporary stay on the application, meaning UBS could proceed with the seizure process to recover its unpaid arrears.

“I would deny permission to appeal and so it follows that I will not grant a stay,” Marsh said.

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Malia’s barrister, Daniel Margolin QC, has indicated that the 65-year-old businessman plans to appeal to the High Court’s Chancery Division judge because it has “serious consequences” for his clients, including Malia’s elderly mother who is currently at the address.

Meanwhile, Fenner Moeran QC has made it clear that UBS wants to move forward with enforcement orders without delay.

The lawsuit relates to a mortgage listed by Rose Capital Ventures, one of Malia’s companies, the former boss of Kingfisher Airlines, his mother Lalita and son Siddhartha Mallya as co-defendants, including the right to own the property.

In May 2019, Judge Simon Barker issued a consent order allowing the family to retain the property with a deadline of April 30, 2020, to pay off the debt. Failed to meet that deadline and with special regulations during the COVID-19 epidemic period, UBS was unable to legally enforce until April 2021.

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When the bank sought a court order for enforcement in October last year, Mallya applied for a stay on the grounds that the bank had created “unreasonable obstacles” in its way to pay through the Family Trust Fund. His legal team also produced a non-binding letter claiming that a company was willing to acquire the property, which would help pay off the debt.

However, Deputy Master Marsh concluded that the letter expressed “limited assistance” and “genuine doubts about the veracity of that offer”.

Under the May 2019 order, UBS was granted “immediate right of acquisition” and Mallya and co-defendants were not allowed to make any further requests to “suspend or suspend the acquisition release date.”

The court order barred any further claims arising out of the bankruptcy proceedings against Malia by a consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI), which ended in a bankruptcy order in July last year.

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Meanwhile, Mallya wants to face charges of fraud and money laundering of Rs 9,000 crore related to his now defunct loan to Kingfisher Airlines in India.

The former United Breweries chief is out on bail in the UK when a “confidential” legal issue, believed to be related to an asylum application, was settled after a separate extradition process.

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