A court in the United Kingdom on Monday refused to sanction the release of huge sums of money held with the Court Funds Office as part of a bankruptcy case against fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya, PTI reported. The bankruptcy case has been filed by a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India.
The 65-year-old businessman had sought approval to use 2.8 million pounds (Rs 27.79 crore) of the estimated 2.9 million pounds (Rs 28.80 crore) held by the court under the country’s Insolvency Act 1986.
Judge Sebastian Prentis, presiding over the Insolvency and Companies Court of the High Court in London, said that Mallya had failed to provide the “basic information” needed for validating such an order. “As to the urgency of this application, I remain puzzled,” the judge said. The court also raised questions about the updated evidence on full disclosure of Mallya’s assets, which includes jewellery and high-value luxury cars.
The court, however, agreed to allow sufficient funds to cover an appeal hearing scheduled in the bankruptcy case for Wednesday. At that hearing, Mallya’s counsel, Philip Marshall, will seek to dismiss the bankruptcy petition order.
During Monday’s hearing, Marshall argued that his client needed urgent access to funds to avoid a “high risk” of him losing his legal representation. Barrister Tony Beswetherick, representing the consortium of Indian banks, challenged Mallya’s application, citing the risk of dissipation of the assets that he owes them.
Beswetherick also pointed out that the High Court will hear the matter on January 22 to decide whether to sanction money to the former Kingfisher Airlines chief, which he received from the sale of his French property Le Grand Jardin.
Mallya owes Indians banks over Rs 9,000 crore. The Supreme Court had directed the businessman to give the banks a list of his assets so that they can recover the money. Mallya had argued that he had already handed over a complete list of his assets as of March 31, 2016. The SBI-led consortium of 13 Indian banks had in December 2018 initiated the bankruptcy proceedings against Mallya.