In yet another blow to embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, the fugitive businessman has lost a legal battle involving his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines in a London court. The UK High Court has asked his company to pay an estimated $90 million in claim to Singapore-based BOC Aviation and BOC Aviation, Ireland.
As per the legal claim, Kingfisher Airlines signed an agreement with aircraft leasing company BOC Aviation to lease out four aircrafts in 2014. The company delivered three of them but the fourth one couldn't be delivered due to an advance payment issue. BOC Aviation told the court Kingfisher Airlines was 'contractually bound' to pay the security amount, but the security that paid by Kingfisher was not enough as per the agreement, following which BOC Aviation moved the London court for claim. The first and second defendants in the claim were named as Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd, respectively.
PTI reported that Justice Picken, in a judgment dated February 5 at the Business and Property Courts of the High Court in London, ruled that "the defendants have no real prospect of successfully defending the claim". "The Second Defendant [United Breweries] shall be jointly and severally liable with the First Defendant [Kingfisher Airlines] to pay the Claimants [BOC Aviation] half of the said costs liability," the court order notes.
Mallya remains on a 650,000-pound bail bond since his arrest on an extradition warrant by Scotland Yard in April in 2017. He has been fighting an extradition case in a London court on the charges of fraud and money laundering involving Kingfisher Airlines default of bank loans worth nearly Rs 9,000-crore.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government, has claimed that the evidence they have presented confirms "dishonesty" on the part of the businessman, who acquired the loans through misrepresentation and had no intentions of repaying them. Mallya's defence team has been deposing a series of expert witnesses to try and establish that the default by Kingfisher Airlines was the result of business failure within a wider context of a global financial crisis and that its owner had no "fraudulent" intentions.
Vijay Mallya will soon face another parallel litigation brought by 13 Indian banks to freeze nearly $1.5 billion of his assets. According to court documents submitted at the UK High Court, the claim brought by the Indian banks against the 61-year-old embattled liquor baron will come up for a hearing in April.
The litigation in the Queen's Bench Division of the commercial court in England's High Court of Justice lists the State Bank of India, 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 as the applicants.