In the battle to save his luxurious London home, absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya received a setback when the UK High Court rejected various legal arguments provided by his legal team against foreclosure by UBS Bank. The Swiss Bank UBS AG is seeking to get back its property situated at Cornwall Terrace, overlooking Regent’s Park in central London, over the non-payment of a 20.4-million pounds mortgage loan. The lender is trying to evict the 62-year-old, his 31-year-old son Sidhartha and his 92-year-old mother Lalitha from the mortgaged property.
Even as the trial in the case would be taken up in May 2019, the court ruled substantially in favour of the lender, news agency PTI reported. “UBS is pleased with the decision. Given that proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further,” PTI reported citing a statement by UBS.
In his judgment following a two-day hearing last month, PTI reported citing Judge Chief Master Marsh: “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”.
The judgement says that the loan was made to embattled Indian businessman on an uncommitted basis and is repayable on demand, further expressing displeasure on the way former liquor baron’s legal team has conducted itself during the case.
Rose Capital purchased the derelict property in 2005, when the British Virgin Islands-registered company had no connection to the Mallya family. The property was used for offices and was purchased with a view to it being converted back to residential use. Two years later, Gladco Properties Inc, which is owned by the Sileta Trust, a Mallya family trust created by Lalitha, purchased shares in Rose Capital.
Planning permission to convert the property to residential use was granted in 2008 and refurbishment works commenced the following year to turn it into “a high class home for Vijay Mallya and his family members and United Breweries Group corporate guests”, the judgment states
Meanwhile, last month, in a strict warning, the Income Tax (IT) department had asked the public not to buy shares of United Racing and Bloodstock Breeders Limited (URBBL), held by Vijay Mallya, that are scheduled to be put up for e-auction on October 30 by the Debt Recovery Tribunal-II, Karnataka.
Mallya remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard last year on fraud and money laundering charges brought by the Indian government, amounting to nearly Rs 9,000 crore. A ruling in his extradition case is expected at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month.