Vijay Mallya to be evicted from luxury London home
Vijay Mallya, the fugitive former head of India’s United Breweries and United Spirits, is to be evicted from his luxury London home after repeatedly failing to repay a £20.4 million mortgage which fell due in 2017.
Mallya, the fugitive former head of both India’s United Spirits (now controlled by Diageo) and United Breweries (controlled by Heineken) owned the prestigious mansion in Cornwall Terrace overlooking fashionable Regent’s Park in central London through Rose Capital, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, which itself is ultimately owned by Sileta Trust, a Mallya family vehicle.
In court the plush Georgian house was described as “an extraordinary valuable property worth many tens of millions of pounds”.
On Tuesday Deputy Master Matthew Marsh ruled in the Chancery Division of the High Court that Swiss bank UBS, which provided the mortgage, could immediately repossess the property and evict the Mallyas.
He refused to grant a stay of enforcement and also declined permission to appeal against his judgement.
The due date for repayment fell in March 2017, almost a year after Mallya fled to the UK to avoid arrest in India to faces charges of fraud and money laundering associated with more than £1.15 billion in bank loans granted to his Kingfisher Airlines, which collapsed spectacularly in 2012.
Indian courts have since seized assets owned by Mallya to repay those debts and have succeeded with an international arrest warrant demanding Mallya be returned to India.
Also on Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court postponed sentencing Mallya for contempt of court because two of the three judges involved in the case were unavailable.
Previously the court had convicted Mallya of failing to disclose his full assets and illegally transferring a $40m payment from Diageo to his family.
It had said that it would sentence him in absentia as the judges had given up hope of Mallya appearing before them voluntarily.
In India, as well as being in contempt of the Supreme Court, Mallya has been declared a “wilful defaulter” a “proclaimed offender” and “fugitive economic offender”.
He exhausted all judicial measures to resist extradition from the UK in the summer of 2019 when the Supreme Court in London declined to hear an appeal from him but he remains in the UK until a “confidential legal matter” is resolved.
This is widely thought to be an application for political asylum. Mallya has often alleged that the charges against him in India are politically motivated and that he would not receive a fair trial.
On average, applications for political asylum in the UK take six months to be heard but the process can last five years or more. Previously a member of Mallya’s legal team has said that he will “never” be extradited to India.
As part of separate bankruptcy proceedings issued in London by a consortium of Indian banks, Mallya’ s global assets have been frozen by a court which has granted him £18,000 a month on which to live.
In separate actions Diageo and its Indian subsidiary are seeking to reclaim a combined £250m from Vijay Mallya and have been awarded an initial judgement against him in London for repayment of some £140m.
After eviction from the central London mansion, it is expected that Mallya will revert to living at his country estate at Tewin in Hertfordshire, a property purchased in 2008 from the father of seven-time grand prix world champion Lewis Hamilton.