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Force India boss Mallya suffers legal blow

2015-07-14 09:16

IN HOT WATER: Force India's Vijay Mallya is accused of unlawfully advertising Kingfisher beer on his team's car from 1996 to 1998. Image: AFP

SUMEET CHATTERJEE

MUMBAI, India - India's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Vijay Mallya for charges against him of violating foreign exchange rules to be dropped, adding to the legal challenges facing one of the country's most prominent businessmen.

The country's enforcement directorate, responsible for fighting financial crime, says Mallya entered into an unauthorised agreement in 1995 to advertise Kingfisher beer on F1 cars from 1996-1998.

ADVERTISED WITHOUT PERMISSION

Mallya is chairman of United Breweries which makes Kingfisher beer and is now around 40%-owned by Dutch brewer Heineken. The directorate has said he did the advertising deal without seeking permission from the central bank.

Such clearance would have been needed because the agreement involved money going out of India.

Lawyers for Mallya, who is also under pressure from lenders to repay dues linked to his grounded carrier Kingfisher Airlines, had told the court that the non-compliance was neither deliberate nor willful, according to the court documents.

READ: Mallya: Bernie must help improve F1 image

India's highest court on Monday (July 13) rejected the appeal in the long-running case and could now force Mallya to face the enforcement directorate charges. A spokesman for Mallya declined to comment on the court's judgement.

CO-OWNER OF FORCE INDIA

Mallya remains involved in F1 as a co-owner of the Force India team.

His business empire previously included United Spirits, India's largest spirits company, but he sold most of his shares in that business and and gave management control to Britain's Diageo in 2012.

In April 2015, the board of United Spirits begun a procedure to remove Mallya as the company's chairman due to alleged financial irregularities. Mallya has denied the allegations and has refused to resign.

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