In a big boost for the government ahead of general elections, a UK court on Monday ordered the extradition of liquor baron Vijay Mallya to India where he is wanted for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.
Delivering the verdict, Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot said that Mallya can be extradited to India to stand trial on the charges brought by the CBI and ED. Mallya was, however, given 14 days to appeal against the verdict.
The judge said there were substantial misrepresentations in Mallya’s characterizations of his financial dealings that gave weight to the Indian government’s extradition request. Arbuthnot said banks may have been fooled into making bad loans by “this glamorous, flashy, famous, bejeweled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense.” She said his companies were in “desperate” financial situations that were concealed from the banks.
Mallya remains free on bail, but the judge told him she would “take your money away” if he failed to show up for future hearings.
The ruling marked a significant point in the high-profile extradition trial that has lasted over a year.
Before the verdict was out, Mallya, while speaking to media outside the court, sought to disprove the narrative that he has “stolen” money and said his offer to repay the principal amount to the Indian banks was “not bogus”.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss was on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year.
“My settlement offer is made before the Karnataka High Court. It is not related to this extradition trial. Nobody disrespects a court of law by making a bogus offer. The assets have been attached by the ED so they cannot be bogus assets,” he said, asserting that his offer to repay the principal amount was not bogus.
The embattled liquor tycoon said that the value of his assets is more than enough to pay everybody and that is exactly what he was focusing on. “I want to disprove the narrative that I have stolen (money),” he said.
He said his legal team will review the judgment and take proper steps thereafter.
In reference to settlement offer to Karnataka High Court, Mallya said that he has requested the court that if the settlement is granted then first the employees of Kingfisher be paid.
The trial, which opened at the Magistrates’ Court on December 4 last year, has gone through a series of hearings beyond the initial seven days earmarked for it.
(With inputs from PTI and AP)