Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for loan defaults amounting to nearly Rs 9,000-crore, on Tuesday claimed he has “enough evidence” to plead his case and taunted authorities, saying, “you can keep dreaming about a billion pounds”. “I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them,” said the 61-year-old boss of the erstwhile Kingfisher airlines, who appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court here for his extradition case hearing.
Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot granted bail to Mallya till December 4. The next hearing has been set for July 6. “I have not eluded any court…I have enough evidence to prove my case,” Mallya told reporters outside the court. “I don’t make statements to the media because anything I say is twisted. There is enough evidence, that will speak,” said Mallya, who was accompanied to court by his son Siddharth Mallya and a small group of supporters.
Mallya was arrested by Scotland Yard in April and has been out on bail. He claimed that no loans were diverted anywhere. “You can keep dreaming about a billion pounds; you cannot prove anything without facts,” Mallya told reporters.
“I go to cheer India in a cricket match and it becomes a media frenzy. It’s better I don’t say anything,” he said, adding that two people, in a drunken state, called him a “thief” outside the stadium. “There were many who wished me well.”
Last week, Mallya was welcomed with chants of “chor, chor” by Indian cricket fans as he arrived to watch the India vs South Africa Champions Trophy match at The Oval in London. Arbuthnot, who presided over what is referred to as a “case management hearing”, said, “Make sure you do not break any conditions of your bail. If you do so, you will be back in custody.”
Mallya’s defence team, which is being led by the firm Boutique Law LLP, said a second extradition request is expected from the Indian government. Mallya was exempted from attending that hearing after his defence team claimed he was “swarmed by media cameras” on his entry to the court Tuesday. “It was literally a battle to get into court,” said Mallya’s lawyer barrister Ben Watson.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, represented by Aaron Watkins, presented the case in court on behalf of the Indian authorities and pushed for a final hearing date in December. “We have a good and close working relationship (with the Indian government) in this case,” Watkins told the judge when asked if, “India is quite prompt in their responses”. A CBI official also flew in from Delhi for Tuesday’s hearing.