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UK: Liquor baron Vijay Mallya faces setback in legal battle to save his London home from forclosure

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail in an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.

Fugitive businessman, Vijay Mallya, on Wednesday, suffered a big blow in his quest to save his posh London home from foreclosure by Swiss bank UBS.

It was reported last month that Swiss bank USB had moved the UK High Court seeking an order of eviction against the liquor baron, Vijay Mallya, his mother and son from their plush multi-million-pound mansion overlooking Regent’s Park in London. The bank has sought repossession of the property over the non-payment of a 20.4 million pounds’ mortgage loan.

The court passed the judgement after rejecting all the arguments relied on by Mallya’s legal team.

In his judgment following a two-day hearing last month, Judge Chief Master Marsh concluded that he can see no basis upon which the defendants should be given an opportunity to amend their defence.

“They have had an ample opportunity to explain their case in answers to UBS’ request for information. The case they put forward is not curable by simple amendments,” he said.

“The language of the contractual terms, in this case, could not be starker. The loan was made on an uncommitted basis and repayable on demand,” the judgment notes.

The judge expressed his displeasure for the considerable delays generated by Mallya’s defence team, which according to the court were totally avoidable. The judge also conveyed his disliking for how the defendants’ (Mallya) legal team had conducted itself during the case.

While the next hearing in the case has been set for May next year, the High Court on Wednesday ruled on the UBS’ application to strike out parts of the defence and found substantially in favour of the bank.

“UBS is pleased with the decision. Given that proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” UBS said in a statement.

The case relates to a mortgage taken out by Rose Capital Ventures, one of Mallya’s companies. The bank says that Rose Capital, through which the house was originally purchased in 2005, had not repaid the loan, which was stated to be for a period of five years and subject to early termination by the claimant.

According to UBS, despite the loan’s expiry and the claimant’s request that defendants vacate the property, the defendants’ had refused to move out.

Mallya in his defence had confirmed that the shares of Rose Capital Ventures Ltd are owned by Gladco which is owned by Sileta Trust, a Mallya family Trust.

While Mallya’s team claims the bank had called in the loan ahead of an agreed period, the bank has claimed that it is within its rights to call in the mortgage for non-payment.

The application relating to the judgment this week was filed by the bank to strike out claims that any rights to remain in the property by the defendants take priority over the mortgage before a full trial in May 2019.

The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail in an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.

The Indian government is trying hard to extradite Vijay Mallya from England to India. On 31st July, UK court had asked Indian authorities to submit a ‘step by step video’ of the prison where Mallya would be kept. CBI had submitted nearly 10 minute-long video, about the conditions of the prison, Mallya would be kept in.

A ruling in his extradition case is expected at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on December 10.

A few days ago, a London Court had ordered the confiscation of the six highly expensive cars of Mallya to repay Indian Consortium of Banks Rs 10,000 crore.

In separate legal proceedings, the businessman had also lost his appeal in the UK’s Court of Appeal against a High Court order in favour of 13 Indian banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds.

The high court order, earlier this year, in favour of the State Bank of India led consortium had reinforced a worldwide freezing order against Mallya’s assets.

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