The consortium of 13 Indian banks, who are seeking to recover the funds owed by embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya, had an enforcement order issued in their favour by a UK High Court judge. Mallya has been accused of fraud and money laundering worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore and is fighting extradition to India.
According to the order, a High Court Enforcement Officer has the permission to enter the businessman’s properties in London and UK. It permits the officer and his agents entry to Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge in Tewin, Welwyn, where Mallya is currently based. However, it is not an instruction to enter, which means the banks have the option to use the order as one of the means to recover estimated funds of around 1.145 billion pounds.
As per PTI, the judge was reported to have noted: “The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any enforcement agents acting under his authority, may enter Ladywalk, Queen Hoo Lane, Tewin, Welwyn… and Bramble Lodge, Tewin, Welwyn, including all outbuildings of Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge to search for and take control of goods belonging to the First Defendant (Mallya).”
“The High Court Enforcement Officer, including any Enforcement Agent acting under his authority, may use reasonable force to enter the property if necessary,” it states.
In May, a UK High Court had passed a ruling which refused to overturn a worldwide order of freezing Mallya’s assets and upheld an Indian court’s ruling that the banks were entitled to recover funds. It set a legal precedent wherein a ruling of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in India was registered by the High Court in UK.
This order relates to the UK’s Tribunal Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. Mallya filed an application in the Court of Appeal against the order, which is pending.
Recently, Mallya had issued a statement to the media where he called the charges against him as politically motivated. He said that he made the statement “after a long period of silence” because he had filed an application before the Karnataka High Court on June 22, setting out available assets of approximately Rs 13,900 crores.
“We have requested the Court’s permission to allow us to sell these assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the Public Sector Banks such amounts as may be directed and determined by the Court,” he tweeted.
“If the criminal agencies such as ED or CBI object to my proposal, and object to the sale of assets, it will clearly demonstrate that there is an agenda against me ‘the Poster Boy’ beyond recovery of dues to Public Sector Banks,” he added.
The 62-year-old was arrested in April last year on an extradition warrant but was later released on bail. His hearing on the extradition case will come up at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 31, where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is expected to give the closing arguments, acting on behalf of the Indian government, and Mallya’s defence team.
The CPS has successfully established a prima facie case of fraud against the businessman, while his lawyers have sought to establish that the criminal charges against him are “without substance”. They have also challenged the case on human rights grounds, questioning the conditions at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where the businessman is to be held post-extradition.
(with PTI inputs)