Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya was denied permission on Wednesday to appeal against a U.K. High Court order refusing to dismiss bankruptcy proceedings brought by a consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI), in its pursuit of debts related to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The 65-year-old businessman, who remains on bail in the UK, had filed a renewed application to appeal against U.K. court orders last year allowing for an adjournment of bankruptcy proceedings until the debt issue before the Supreme Court in India was decided upon.
His counsel, Philip Marshall, argued that the banks’ bankruptcy petition should be dismissed rather than just adjourned, as the debt in question was disputed and being deliberated upon in the Indian courts.
“While this was a new point [before the appellate court], I do not accept it as a reasonable ground for appeal as the matter can be dealt with during proceedings that are still continuing,” said Justice Colin Birss, during a remote hearing of the Chancery Appeals Division of the High Court in London.
Mr. Mallya’s barrister also raised the issue of “abuse of process” by the banks in their alleged non-disclosure of securities held in India and the existence of third-party security in the form of assets related to United Breweries Holdings.
The judge reiterated that he had dismissed both these as sufficient grounds of appeal in a ruling he handed down “on paper” in December last year. “There is no prospect of success of an appeal based on this ground, although this does not preclude reliance on it [third-party security] later,” the judge ruled.
The hearing forms part of a series being heard by the High Court since the SBI-led consortium of 13 Indian banks initiated the proceedings against Mr. Mallya in December 2018 as part of their efforts to recoup around £1.145 billion in unpaid loans.
Meanwhile, the separate proceedings related to the former Kingfisher Airlines chief being extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering remain held up by a “confidential” legal matter.
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