A consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) was back for a High Court hearing in London on Friday in pursuit of a bankruptcy order against embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, as they attempt recovery of debt from loans paid out to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
At a virtual hearing before Chief Insolvencies and Companies Court (ICC) judge Michael Briggs, both sides presented closing arguments in the case being heard following an amendment to a bankruptcy petition filed last year.
While the Indian banks argue a right to waive their security over the Indian assets involved in the case in order to recover their debt in the UK, lawyers for the 65-year-old businessman counter that the funds in question involved public money held by state-owned banks in India which precludes them from such a security waiver.
They also point to ongoing interest rate legal challenges in India that impact upon the applicability of a UK bankruptcy order.
“We can’t second guess what’s going to happen in India,” said barrister Marcia Shekerdemian, arguing on behalf of SBI and others.
Mallya’s barrister, Philip Marshall, referred to witness statements of retired Indian judges in previous hearings to reiterate that there is “public interest under Indian law” by virtue of the banks being nationalised. “Any security cannot be unilaterally waived,” he said.