The Bold Voice of J&K

Mallya to challenge Kingfisher’s wilful defaulter tag

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Bangalore :  Kingfisher Airlines Ltd would pursue legal remedies to challenge the decision of state-run United Bank of India (UBI) to declare it as a wilful defaulter, promoter and chairman Vijay Mallya said Thursday.

“We will pursue all legal remedies available with us to challenge the bank’s declaration, as we do not agree with its grievance redressal committee’s findings,” Mallya told reporters on the margins of the United Breweries Ltd’s 15th annual general meeting here.

Claiming that the bank had not given the airline an opportunity to explain its position or appear before its panel Aug 28, Mallya said it would be premature for him to speculate on the outcome.

“I have already clarified our position through a statement on the same day (Sep 1) denying the allegations the bank made against us. I have faith in the country’s judicial system,” he asserted.

Kolkata-based UBI Monday declared the defunct airline, Mallya and three directors – A.K. Ganguly, Subhash R. Gupte and Ravi Nedungadi – as wilful defaulters after they failed to appear before its redressal panel over the non-payment of Rs.400 crore loan advanced to it in 2006-07.

“I can only reiterate that we were not given fair hearing as we could not appear before the panel,” Mallya reiterated.

The bank’s recovery cell summoned Mallya and the directors after a division bench of the Calcutta High Court Aug 28 dismissed the airline’s petition to send a legal representation and exempt them from appearing before the redressal panel.

Asked about his strategy to face similar summons from other banks which had advanced loans to his debt-ridden airline, Mallya said he would take each one as it would come.

Mallya is scheduled to appear Friday before an IDBI Bank committee in Mumbai over non-payment of Rs.750 crore the airline borrowed for its operations till it was grounded in October 2012 by the aviation regulator, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

As per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular, a defaulting company or person will not be allowed to borrow money from any bank and will cease to hold any official post in the company.

Mallya also claimed that none of the UB shareholders had asked him to step down from the board as chairman in light of the wilful defaulter tag.

“Nobody asked me to step down. They (investors) did not ask any question or raised concerns with me in the meeting (AGM),” he added.

The Supreme Court Tuesday also declined to hear the airline’s appeal against the wilful defaulter tag, saying its prayer had become infructuous, as the bank had already passed such an order Monday.

A division bench of the apex court, however, directed the airline to appeal against it bin the Calcutta High Court.

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