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The dirty trail of money

While much has been read and said about Vijay Mallya and his constant hide-and-seek with government authorities, details remain either inaccessible or too obfuscated. Escaped is a deep dive into the deeds and misdemeanours of the magnate, and what lies beneath the scaffolding of a billionaire-gone-wrong. Here is an excerpt:

 

The more famous pad of the Mallyas is the palatial country house in Tewin village, Hertfordshire, 20 miles north of London. The quintessential English village dates back to the Anglo-Saxon times, boasts of a picturesque countryside rich in flora and fauna and has a population of barely 2000.

Mallya’s property Ladywalk was previously owned and occupied by Anthony Hamilton, father of F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, and hence has always been the cynosure of all eyes in the sleepy village.

Though not much is visible from the main entrance, a public footpath runs around the property, providing an unrestricted view of the enormous spread that includes the main house Ladywalk and a lodge called Bramble Lodge with plenty of land for Mallya’s five dogs — Bichon lapdogs Elsa and Daisy, golden retrievers Luna and Bella and a St Bernard called Spirit — to play chase.

Security at Ladywalk is a priority and several CCTV cameras are in operation 24×7 at various entry and exit points along the periphery of the extensive property. Guards, dressed in black and armed with iPads and binoculars, are ever vigilant, and more so for snoopy scribes.

The large modern house sits on 30 acres of land and boasts of swimming pools, tennis courts and several outhouses. The two-year renovation of the property saw a continuous flow of architects, landscape artists, builders and gardeners. But what the locals most look forward to is the plethora of supercars that take to the narrow roads leading to Queen Hoo Lane. A sure sign that the party king is at home!

Front cover Escaped
Escaped||Danish Khan, Ruhi Khan

The story begins on 11 June 2014. This property was already on the market through estate agents Savills and Knight Frank with at least one prospective buyer lined up. Mallya paid Hamilton a visit, instantly fell in love with the property and immediately made an offer. An offer that Anthony Hamilton could not refuse. So desperate was Mallya to make this his new home that a written agreement between the two was signed that day, thus sealing the fate of this property.

Interestingly, this agreement specified the ‘Buyer’ as: ‘Dr Vijay Mallya and/or, Miss Leena Vijay Mallya, Miss Tanya Vijay Mallya, Mr Siddhartha Vijay Mallya OR to his/their order’. Mallya’s Cornwall Terrace address in London was listed as the residential address. The deal was signed for a whopping £13 million and strangely no deposit was taken by Hamilton on that day.

On 11 June 2014, Anthony Hamilton signed as the ‘seller’, witnessed by Force India’s Deputy Head Robert Fernley, and Mallya signed the agreement under his own name as a ‘buyer’, witnessed by his chartered accountant Dr Lakshmi Kanthan.

The only signature on the preliminary agreement under the ‘buyer’ was that of Mallya.

None of his children had accompanied him to view the property and there is no evidence to suggest that they were aware that they were put as buyers then or had authorized Mallya to purchase the property on their behalf.

This property has all the hallmarks of being owned and occupied by Mallya. A fleet of supercars making their way down the drive, hordes of people descending to party all night long and a constant delivery of goods and services.

Yet when we dig deeper into the ownership, Vijay Mallya is a phantom lurking everywhere yet really nowhere.

Ladywalk is propped up on a complex structure of ownership that defines the existence of many such marquee properties in the UK.

Mallya has never disputed claims that he bought his new family home with the intention of securing it for his son and two daughters.

Though he has often nonchalantly challenged reporters to prove that the Ladywalk property was bought by him through ill-gotten money.

If one can lawfully hide the real ownership and flow of funds, why wouldn’t billionaires exercise the option and bask in the security this provides them?

~

Danish Khan and Ruhi Khan’s book is going to keep you at the very edge of your seats.

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