UK court declares fugitive Vijay Mallya bankrupt
The UK high court on Monday issued a bankruptcy order against the Indian businessman Vijay Mallya. The order will pave the way for a consortium of India banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) to pursue a worldwide freezing order on Mallya’s assets in a bid to seek the repayment of debts owed by the liquor baron’s now-defunct company Kingfisher Airlines.
“As at 15.42 [UK time], I shall adjudicate Dr Mallya bankrupt,” Chief Insolvencies and Companies Court (ICC) Judge Michael Briggs said in his ruling during a virtual hearing of the Chancery Division of the High Court, news agency PTI reported.
Mallya, 65, is wanted in India for fraud and money laundering charges. He is on bail in the UK while a “confidential” legal matter, largely believed to be regarding an asylum application, is resolved in connection with the unrelated extradition proceedings.
“I have to decide if there is a real prospect of payment of petition debt in full within a reasonable period of time… there is insufficient evidence that [Mallya’s asset realisations in India] will pay the debt in full within a reasonable period of time,” Judge Briggs further said in reference to arguments about the restoration process in India following a Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court order for the attachment of Mallya’s assets.
Following the order on Monday, Mallya’s barrister Philip Marshall sought for an adjournment of the order but the judge declined the request to appeal against the bankruptcy order. The judge also said that there was no “real prospect of success” in the case of such an appeal.
The consortium of Indian banks was represented by a law firm named TLT LLP and barrister Marcia Shekerdemian. They argued for the bankruptcy order to be granted in favour of their clients, who are owed over GBP 1 billion. They also pointed out that the long ongoing case would complete its “third birthday in September this year."
The SBI-led consortium comprises of 13 Indian banks, including Bank of Baroda, Corporation bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & 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.
(With inputs from PTI)