UK Court allows seizure of UK assets in a big win for Indian banks

UK Court allows seizure of UK assets in a big win for Indian banks

In a big setback for former liquor-baron Vijay Mallya, a UK High Court judge has issued an enforcement order granting permission to seize his properties in Hertfordshire, near London

Mumbai: In a big setback for former liquor-baron Vijay Mallya, a UK High Court judge has issued an enforcement order granting permission to seize his properties in Hertfordshire, near London. The decision comes amid Narendra Modi government’s plan to declare him a fugitive economic offender under a newly-passed law.

The UK ruled in favour of a consortium of 13 Indian banks that seek to recover funds owed to them by beleaguered Vijay Mallya who is fighting extradition to India on fraud and money laundering charges worth nearly Rs 9,000 crore.

It permits the officer and his agent’s 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.

The former Kingfisher Airlines boss remains on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year. He will return for his extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on July 31, when closing arguments are expected from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), acting on behalf of the Indian government, and Mallya’s defence team. A judgment is expected in the case at a later date.

Vijay Mallya late last month claimed that he wanted to sell its India assets worth about Rs 139 billion to repay creditors including PSBs. Meanwhile last week, the ED made its first official move to clampdown against big bank loan defaulters as it moved court against Vijay Mallya seeking to declare him a ‘fugitive offender’ and to confiscate his assets worth Rs 12,500 crore.

The agency filed an application before a Mumbai court under the recently promulgated Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance that empowers it to confiscate all assets of an absconding loan defaulter. On April 21, the Union Cabinet approved the ordinance and the President gave his assent to its promulgation a day later. The ED has furnished evidence in its two charge sheets under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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Anju Singh from Mumbai for HWEO (Human Welfare Evolutionary Organisation, Jhansi)

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