UK home secretary approves extradition of Vijay Mallya to India

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “UK home secretary approves extradition of Vijay Mallya to India” was written by Rupert Neate Wealth correspondent, for The Guardian on Tuesday 5th February 2019 08.33 Asia/Kolkata

The UK home secretary has ordered the extradition of Vijay Mallya, the Indian multimillionaire chairman of Kingfisher beer and former Force India Formula One team owner, over allegations of £1bn fraud.

Sajid Javid on Monday formally ordered Mallya, who owns two multimillion UK properties and until last year had two superyachts, to be extradited, stating that the 63-year-old businessman is “accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences”.

Mallya, the self-proclaimed “king of the good times” who lives in a £11.5m mansion in the sleepy Hertfordshire village of Tewin, said he would appeal against the extradition. “I could not initiate the appeal process before a decision by the home secretary. Now I will initiate the appeal process,” he said on Twitter.

He has been fighting the extradition order and has previously dismissed the allegations that he fled India leaving a trail of £977m worth of debts as “ludicrous”. He has said he made an “unconditional” offer to pay what he owed in full in July 2018.

A judge ruled in December 2018 that Mallya had misrepresented how loans from Indian banks were used and referred the decision on his extradition to Javid.

Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot described Mallya as a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense and persuading them to put their own rules and regulations to one side”.

Mallya is alleged to have knowingly misled largely India state-owned banks about the fortunes of his failing Kingfisher airline, before laundering the cash to fund his Formula One team and other projects. India’s enforcement directorate has been investigating the tycoon’s £977m debts linked to the airline, which went bust in 2012.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation into Mallya in 2015 and the Metropolitan police’s extradition unit arrested him in April last year. He had entered the UK on a valid passport in March 2016.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has singled out Mallya, accusing him of ripping off India and Indians.

“There is no place for corruption in India,” Modi said in comments referring to Mallya. “Those who looted the poor and middle classes will have to return what they have looted.”

Modi’s government has described Mallya – who used to travel the globe on a private jet with VJM painted in gold on the engines and wingtips – as a “fugitive from justice”.

Javid’s decision to sign the extradition order was framed in India as proof of Modi’s anti-corruption bonafides. The government also recently arranged the extradition from Dubai of Christian Michel, a British businessman who India alleges facilitated the payment of kickbacks as part of a defence supply deal.

“Modi government clears one more step to get Mallya extradited while Opposition rallies around Saradha Scamsters,” tweeted the Indian finance minister, Arun Jaitley, in reference to an alleged financial fraud scandal playing out in the country’s east.

Indian public outcry over Mallya was stoked by a lavish two-day 60th birthday party in 2015 for hundreds of guests at his Kingfisher Villa, a huge beachfront bungalow in Goa.

The party, which reportedly cost more than $2m (£1.5m), included performances by the Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam and Enrique Iglesias, who sang on stage with Mallya.

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UK home secretary approves extradition of Vijay Mallya to India - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).