Mallya Loses U.K. Lawsuit Over $1.55 Billion in Indian ClaimsBy
London judge backs lawsuit by 13 banks in ruling Tuesday
Mallya can only access 20,000 pounds a week under freeze order
Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya lost a U.K. lawsuit filed by Indian banks seeking to collect more than 1.15 billion pounds ($1.55 billion) amid allegations that he committed massive fraud.
Judge Andrew Henshaw in London Tuesday said the lenders, including IDBI Bank Ltd., can enforce an Indian court ruling that relates to allegations that Mallya willfully defaulted on about $1.4 billion in debt for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. Henshaw also refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya’s assets.
The 62-year-old is fighting numerous lawsuits in the U.K. and his native country over fraud and money-laundering allegations. He was arrested in London more than a year ago and is waging another fight to block extradition in a different court about three miles across town.
Lawyers for Mallya declined to comment after the hearing. Henshaw refused permission to appeal Tuesday’s ruling, meaning his attorneys will have to directly petition the Court of Appeal.
Attorneys at law firm TLT in London, who are representing the lenders said the ruling will allow them to enforce the underlying judgment by the Indian debt recovery tribunal immediately.
The asset freeze order had forced Mallya to live on 5,000 pounds a week, but his allowance was increased to roughly 20,000 pounds a week earlier this year, lawyers for the lenders said after the hearing.
Mallya was arrested in London April 18 on a warrant issued by Indian authorities accusing him of conspiring to defraud India’s IDBI Bank through a 91 billion-rupee ($1.4 billion) loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. -- a premium airline he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later.
Mallya left India in 2016, saying he was moving to England to be closer to his children. He has refused to return to India and said he fears an unfair trial amid the “media frenzy and hysteria” over unpaid dues. Mallya has also said government agencies are pursuing a "heavily biased investigation" and holding him guilty without trial.
— With assistance by Suzi Ring