Vijay Mallya loses legal battle to hold onto his luxurious London apartment
Fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya has lost a legal battle to hold onto his plush London apartment, which overlooks Regen’s Park. The British court refused to grant him a stay of enforcement in a long-running dispute with the Swiss Bank UBS. The 18/19 Cornwall Terrace luxury apartment, described as an extraordinarily valuable property worth many tens of millions of pounds, is currently being occupied by Mallya’s 95-year-old mother Lalitha.
The case relates to a mortgage taken out by Rose Capital Ventures, one of Mallya’s companies, with the former Kingfisher Airlines boss, his mother Lalitha and son Sidhartha Mallya listed as co-defendants with the right to occupancy of the property.
Deputy Master Mathew Marsh, delivering his judgment virtually for the Chancery Division of the High Court, concluded that there were no grounds for him to grant further time for the Mallya family to repay a GBP 20.4 million loan to UBS (the claimant in the case).
“The claimant’s position was a reasonable one. Further time is not likely to make any material difference,” Deputy Master Marsh ruled. “I would also add from my review of the correspondence, I can see no basis whatever for the suggestion that has been made that the claimant has misled the first defendant (Vijay Mallya). In conclusion, I dismiss the first defendant’s application.”
The former Rajya Sabha member has also been declined permission to appeal against the court order. Mallya was denied to apply a grant for a temporary stay of enforcement. This means UBS can proceed with the possession process to realize its unpaid dues. Daniel Margolin QC, Mallya’s barrister, said the businessman plans to pursue an appeal before a High Court Chancery Division judge as it has serious consequences for his clients, including the elderly mother who currently resides at the address. However, Fenner Moeran QC made it clear that UBS intends to go ahead with the enforcement order without any delay.
Judge Simon Baker, in May 2019, had handed down a consent order allowing the family to retain possession with a final deadline of April 30, 2020 granted for the repayment of the loan. However, Mallya failed to meet the deadline and with special rules in place over the COVID-19 pandemic period, UBS was legally unable to pursue enforcement until April 2021.
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Mallya filed an application of stay, in October 2021, on the grounds that the bank had placed unreasonable obstacles in his path to repay the sums through family trust funds. His legal team also produced a non-binding letter claiming a company was willing to acquire the property, which would help pay off the loan. But Deputy Master Marsh said the letter was of limited assistance and expressed real doubts about the bonafide of that offer.
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