Vijay Mallya sentencing delayed until Easter

Vijay Mallya, the former head of United Spirits, will not know the outcome of India’s attempts to have him extradited until about Easter, after his defence team was given further time to prepare their case.

(Photo: Wiki)

At Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday, senior magistrate Emma Arbuthot gave his defence team further time to prepare their case for having much of the Indian government’s evidence disallowed on procedural grounds and indicated a timetable of about three weeks to hear closing arguments.

Mallya’s bail was extended until April 2 (Easter Monday), suggesting that a date for a potential ruling would follow soon after that.

Mallya is wanted in India to face charges of fraud and money laundering relating to estimated debts of more than £1bn incurred in the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines in 2012. He has already been found in contempt of the country’s Supreme Court for failure to reveal his global assets in full and has also been declared a “proclaimed offender”.

Indian law allows the courts to seize assets of a proclaimed offender to mitigate debts. Those proceedings are set to start in mid-April.

Mallya fled to Britain in April 2016 just hours before the authorities attempted to serve an arrest warrant. He was subsequently arrested by police in London in August 2017 since when he has been on bail of £650,000, living at his mansion in Hertfordshire.

Throughout Mallya has proclaimed his innocence, saying he is the subject of a political witch hunt. His defence team say he was the victim of the global downturn in 2008 and that he has sought to reach a settlement with his creditors.

The prosecutors have alleged that Mallya is a fraudster who never intended to repay his debts, having switched much of the money involved to foreign accounts.

The defence have also challenged possible extradition on the grounds that 62-year-old Mallya will not receive proper medical treatment in jail in Mumbai for his “diabetes, coronary artery disease and sleep apnoea”. There have also been reports that he fears being murdered in prison.

Whichever way the magistrate eventually rules, the losing side is almost certain to start what could be a prolonged process of appeals to higher courts in Britain.

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