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19 April 2024

Vijay Mallya granted bail in London extradition hearing

Photo: AP


Flamboyant businessman Vijay Mallya, pursued by Indian authorities over unpaid loans tied to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines, was arrested in London on Tuesday and appeared in court for an extradition hearing.

A source close to Mallya said he attended a police station voluntarily and the arrest was a technical procedure. Mallya, 61, was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities over accusations of fraud and appeared in Westminster Magistrates' Court, British police said.

Indian television channels said he was granted bail at the hearing.

Mallya, in a message on Twitter, called the news of his arrest "usual Indian media hype".

India had asked Britain to extradite Mallya to face trial after the liquor and aviation tycoon fled there last March after banks sued to recover about $1.4 billion that Indian authorities say Kingfisher owes.

Mallya has repeatedly dismissed the charges against him and defended himself in messages on Twitter. On Jan. 28 he said that "not one rupee was misused".

A spokesman for India's foreign ministry said "the two governments are in touch" over India's extradition request.

India and Britain have a mixed record on extradition, say legal experts. Some cases have collapsed when evidence fell short of the standard of "dual criminality", or actions that amount to a crime in both countries.

"The court usually focuses on whether there is sufficient evidence of criminality to extradite someone," said Andrew Smith, a partner at London law firm Corker Binning.

"India needs to show a prima facie evidential case against this man."

Television channel CNN News18 said a team of Indian law enforcement officials would visit London to begin work on the extradition. India's Central Bureau of Investigation did not immediately comment.

Mallya co-owns the Force India Formula One team. He has a base in London and a country home bought from the father of triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton.

India's top brewer, United Breweries, part-owned by global giant Heineken, this year asked Mallya, its non-executive chairman, to step down from the board, following a regulatory order. United Breweries was not immediately available to comment after Tuesday's development.

India's capital markets regulator has barred Mallya from participating in the securities market for having allegedly diverted funds from whisky maker United Spirits. Reuters

Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya arrested in London

Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya has been arrested in London on an extradition request from India, where he is accused of fraud, British police said on Tuesday.

"Vijay Mallya, 61, was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud," the police said in a statement.

He will appear in court in London later Tuesday, the statement said.

The flamboyant financier secretly fled India in March 2016 owing more than $1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.

India submitted an extradition request to Britain in early February after investigators demanded that Mallya be brought home to face charges.

His financial dealings are being probed by India's Central Bureau of Investigation and its federal Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency.
Mallya, who once branded himself the "King of Good Times" and was known for his extravagant lifestyle, was sacked in February from the board of United Breweries, the company through which he once controlled his business empire.

He made Kingfisher beer a global brand and ran a now-defunct airline with the same name, besides being the owner of a cricket side and a Formula One team.