In a major breakthrough for the Indian law enforcement authorities, the Scotland Yard on Tuesday arrested absconding liquor baron Vijay Mallya in London. He was produced before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court today and was later granted bail. The court proceedings, however, will continue in the extradition case. Confirming his arrest, the Metropolitan Police issued a statement that Mallya, 61, was arrested on “behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud”. The statement added that he was taken into custody after attending a central London police station. The Ministry of Home Affairs immediately directed the CBI and ED to apply for his extradition in IDBI bank loan fraud case.
Soon after his release Mallya mocked the Indian media for hyping his arrest. “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected,” he tweeted. Speaking to reporters in India, Santosh Gangwar, MoS Finance, asserted that Mallya would be brought back to the country. “Vijay Mallya will be brought back to India, due process of law will be followed,” he said.
It was however met with derision by the Congress party, which blamed the central government for misleading the people. “After relentless campaign by Congress,finally extradition request was submitted by Govt in February. But within 1 hour, Vijay Mallya got bail. So the Govt should stop misleading the people of India,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) April 18, 2017
Mallya is wanted in cases related to several economic offences, including defaulting on bank loans worth crores of rupees. His now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes over Rs 9,000 crore to state-owned and private banks.
Earlier, the Indian government requested the Theresa May government to extradite Mallya. The request came when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met the UK Chancellor earlier this year. On February 21, the UK authorities conveyed to their Indian counterparts that the Secretary of State had certified their extradition request. “The UK Home department on February 21 conveyed that the request of India for extradition of Mallya has been certified by the secretary of state and sent to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a district judge to consider the issue of releasing of warrant,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.
In the same month, a special court allowed the Enforcement Directorate to invoke the India-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and launch probe in a money laundering case against Mallya. Despite its efforts the ED failed to corner Mallya. In the past they had obtained a non-bailable warrant, revoked his passport and, also, unsuccessfully sought an Interpol warrant. Subsequently the ED attached his properties worth Rs 9,661 crore after he failed to appear before it, despite being issued several summons and asked to join the probe.
The CBI is also investigating Mallya under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption for allegedly defaulting on loans. Mallya had fled from the country March 2, 2016 and sought refuge in the United Kingdom, after a lookout notice was issued against him. In November 2016, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court declared him as an “absconder” after he ignored several warrants and summons. In June, he was declared as a “proclaimed offender” by a special court.
His arrest incidentally comes on the same day British Prime Minister Theresa May called for fresh polls in the country.
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