New Delhi: From building a reputation as the country’s “King of Good Times” to being ordered by a UK court to be extradited back to India to face fraud charges, Vijay Mallya’s fall from grace continues as banks have now set their sights on two superyachts and a luxury cars collection believed to be under the ownership of the Indian tycoon.
In an attempt to accumulate around US$1.3 billion in debt from Mallya, a group of Indian banks are seeking documents that would confirm the “true ownership” of assets comprising yachts, paintings and cars, as per their court filings for a hearing in London.
According to the banks’ filings, Mallya, who co-owned Formula One motor racing team Force India, says that he has no control of the items, which are currently held by trusts. The 63-year-old, who was not represented at the hearing, is still in the United Kingdom, awaiting the British government’s final call on his extradition.
The superyachts include a 95-meter Indian Empress and a 50-meter Force India, with the latter seized in Southampton, southern England. In September, Indian Empress, which is being held by the court, was sold by a Maltese court for US$40 million. Force India was bought by a Maltese company and the Indian Empress was taken away by an Isle of Man company until its sale, as per the court documents.
Additionally, the banks said that there are “many very valuable assets” that are held through “a complex ownership structure comprising offshore companies and discretionary trusts.”
‘Trusts working in Mallya’s favour’
The trusts are said to be running to assist Mallya’s family, the banks’ filings said. While Mallya says he has no interest in those trusts and assets, the banks “do not believe him,” adding that he “has only relatively recently divested himself of his interests to make himself judgment-proof.” The hearing was adjourned by Judge Christopher Hancock on Friday, with the case set to be considered at a later date.
Mallya, who has business interests ranging from aviation to liquor, is facing criminal charges relating to about US$ 1.4 billion in loans taken out by defunct Kingfisher from banks in India, which authorities say he does not intend to repay.