Indian banks pursue $2bn loan repayment in trial against GVK

01 Oct 2023

In the High Court, a trial commenced involving six Indian banks pursuing unpaid loans totalling approximately $2 billion, inclusive of accrued interest, from GVK Coal Developers (Singapore) Pte and affiliated companies. Presided over by Judge Dame Clare Moulder in the Commercial Court division, the case was initiated by Bank of Baroda (represented by its Ras Al Khaimah branch), Bank of India (London branch), Canara Bank (London branch), ICICI Bank (represented by its Bahrain, Dubai, and Off-Shore Banking branches), Indian Overseas Bank (Corporate Branch, India), and Axis Bank.

The origins of the case trace back to 2011 and 2014 when loan facilities were extended to the company, which the banks assert are long overdue, except for $83 million derived from the sale of a Bengaluru airport and certain undisputed amounts. Court records indicate that the banks have been pursuing the matter in the High Court in London since 2020.

GVK's legal representatives had successfully requested a postponement in June of the previous year to prepare expert reports on Indian law for the trial. As the trial commenced, GVK was represented solely by an Indian advocate, reportedly having terminated their engagement with their UK legal firm in the weeks leading up to the trial.

The banks are being represented by the international law firm Reed Smith, which has instructed Karishma Vora, an Indian-origin barrister from 39 Essex Chambers London, to present the case before the Commercial Court in London. The case includes several other GVK group companies as defendants, primarily Singapore-based entities with a few from Telangana, including Black Gold Ventures Pte, Cool Water Ventures Pte, Harmony Waters Pte, GVK Natural Resources, GVK Power and Infrastructure, GVK Resources (Singapore) Pte, GVK Coal Resources (Singapore) Pte, and GVK Coal Exploration & Production Pte.

The banks are seeking repayment of the loans acquired in 2011 and 2014, with England being the jurisdiction applied in the case. The GVK Group has been contacted for a comment regarding the on-going trial.

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