Vijay Mallya has applied to Home Secretary Priti Patel for “another route” to be able to stay in the U.K., the liquor tycoon’s barrister Philip Marshall representing him in bankruptcy proceedings in the High Court in London confirmed during a remote hearing on Friday.
The 65-year-old businessman, whose legal challenge to the Indian government’s extradition request was turned down at the Supreme Court level in the U.K. last year, remains in Britain on bail until Ms. Patel signs off on the order for him to be extradited to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering related to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.
The UK Home Office has so far only confirmed on background that a confidential legal process remains ongoing before the extradition order can be executed.
This had raised widespread speculation that Mallya had sought asylum in the UK, details of which are neither confirmed nor denied by the Home Office in Britain while an application is pending.
On the other hand, while specifically asked by the Deputy Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Nigel Barnett about the status of the extradition proceedings, Mallya’s barrister stated that “The extradition was upheld but Mallya is still here because as you know there is another route for him to apply to the Secretary of State [Patel] for status.”
The remote hearing in the commercial division of the High Court in London was to establish whether the court can sanction substantial sums towards Vijay Mallya’s living expenses and legal fees from the sale of a French luxury property Le Grand Jardin last year.
The money is held in the UK’s Court Funds Office (CFO) as part of bankruptcy proceedings brought by a consortium of Indian banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) in pursuit of unpaid loans.
Meanwhile, the banks’ barrister, Tony Beswetherick, argued that Mallya’s latest written evidence shows that he “does have other assets that he can utilize to meet the very significant costs he is seeking to have validated and paid (including two yachts that he has put into storage in Southampton, debts owed to him by family trusts, and cars in storage in France)”.
However, Mallya’s lawyers pointed to a worldwide freezing order in place that constrains access to his assets, and the conclusion in October last year of his consultancy arrangement for a Formula One team meant he had no other sources of income at his disposal.
They claimed the conduct of the banks was “highly oppressive” and an attempt to “starve Mallya of the funds”.
Subsequently, the judge reserved his judgment on the issue of access to court-held funds and is expected to hand down his ruling in the coming weeks.