Enforcement officers may enter Vijay Mallya’s country residence for a search, says London Court

The Commercial Court order relates to the case against him brought by the SBI and 12 other banks seeking recovery of debts.

The High Court Enforcement Officer or other enforcement agents acting through their authority may enter Ladywalk, Vijay Mallya’s country residence, to search and take control of goods belonging to him, according to a court order from London’s Commercial Court last month.

The order relates to the case against Mallya brought by the State Bank of India and 12 other banks seeking the recovery of debts through the London courts.

The order enables the agents to enter Ladywalk and Bramble Lodge, and outbuildings of both properties in Tewin, in the English county of Hertfordshire.

The agents “may use reasonable force to enter the property if necessary,” says the order from June 26 by Justice Bryan at the Queen’s bench division of the Commercial Court in London.

The order — while not an instruction to act — grants permission, should it be required, while banks consider all enforcement options that are available to them.

The order comes after a separate order required Mallya to pay the banks £200,000 (₹ 1.8 crore) by June 5 this year, towards the costs of the legal case being pursued against him, after he attempted to throw out the registration of a ruling by Debt Recovery Tribunal in the U.K., and a worldwide freezing of international assets. He is currently seeking permission to appeal the case to the Court of Appeal. The case currently awaits a judicial decision on the papers.

Extradition efforts

The banks’ case is being pursued independently of the authorities’ efforts to extradite him to India to face charges relating to fraud and money laundering. A final hearing in the case, when both sides will put forward their closing remarks, has been delayed from the middle of July to July 31.

While the extradition efforts focus specifically on an alleged fraud centring around loans provided by IDBI Bank, the debt recovery and asset freezing efforts are being pursued by 13 banks led by the State Bank of India and include Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Federation Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank Ltd, Punjab and Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction.

In late June, in an extraordinary invention, Mallya broke his long silence to slam the “politically motivated” case and “blatantly false,” allegations made against him, highlighting an application made through the Karnataka’s High Cort to sell ₹ 13,900 crore of assets to repay creditors, including the banks. Any attempt to block this effort would highlight the “agenda” being pursued against him beyond the recovery of dues to the banks, he said.

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