DRT to pronounce verdict in Mallya case today

19-01-2017
ud

Bengaluru: The Debt Recovery Tribunal here will today pronounce its order on the pleas of SBI-led consortium of banks for recovery of over Rs 9,000 crore from beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya in the Kingfisher Airlines case.

DRT Presiding Officer K Sreenivasan said this while hearing an Interlocutory Application pertaining to the case.

"I will be pronouncing the verdict on the pleas of banks for recovering money in this case tomorrow," he said on Wednesday.

The presiding officer in a recent directive had reserved orders on the Original Application filed by the consortium and also 30-odd Interlocutory Applications, including several by Mallya and his companies, without specifying any date.

The order will bring the curtains down on the nearly three-year legal battle in the tribunal by the consortium, comprising 17 banks, to recover the money owed by the defunct airlines.

The verdict will be pronounced at the new rented space which will be inaugurated today. DRT had been conducting hearings from the current building since December 1994, and is the oldest tribunal in South India.

Initially, DRT Bengaluru handled cases of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puduchery, but gradually its burden lessened after respective states had its own DRTs.

The tribunal spent over Rs two crore for renovation of the rented space, according to a top DRT official.

The lenders had moved the DRT in 2013 to recover dues from the defunct airline. SBI had filed three other applications also, including one seeking Mallya’s arrest and impounding his passport, for "defaulting" on loans.

Mallya, who left the country on March 2 last year and is now in the UK, has been declared Proclaimed Offender by a special PMLA court in Mumbai on a plea of Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money laundering probe against him in the alleged bank loan default case.

During the prolonged hearing, the DRT had disposed some of the IAs filed by either side. The DRT had on March 7 last year, restrained Mallya from withdrawing INR 5,098.76 million exit payment from British liquor giant Diageo as part of a severance package for quitting Diageo-owned United Spirits (USL) as its Chairman under a "sweetheart deal".

However, on July 13, the tribunal ruled that the order had become "infructuous" as INR 2,719.34 million had already been transferred prior to the March 7 directive. Later, passing orders on another IA, the tribunal had directed Diageo Plc to deposit with it the remaining INR 2,379.42 million of the "sweetheart deal".

The DRT had on July 16 allowed another IA of the bankers for lifting of corporate veil to pierce the protection against personal liability enjoyed by individuals controlling Kingfisher Finvest, a holding company of Mallya.

It had also dismissed the IA filed by Dutch beer major Heineken seeking impleadment in the Mallya case to enjoy Right of First Refusal over UBL shares. Heineken has some presumptive rights on UBL shares held and owned by Mallya.

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