Monday could be landmark day for Mallya’s extradition battle

Former head of United Spirits, Vijay Mallya, will learn whether Westminster Magistrates have decided to accept or disregard much of the documentary evidence supplied by the Indian authorities to support their request that he be returned to answer charges of fraud and money laundering.

Mallya’s defence team has argued that much of the evidence shows so many signs of similarity that it must have been produced in collusion and is therefore worthless. Mallya has always protested his innocence and claims that he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

The affair stems from the collapse of Mallys’s Kingfisher Airlines in 2012. A consortium of banks claim that he owes them £1.2 billion including interest lent to support the cheap fares carrier.

They argue that he never had any intention of repaying the debt, an argument that Mallya rejects. He challenges the total and says he has made sensible offers of repayment.

Mallya is also accused of diverting funds illegally to his children and offshore companies he controls to put them beyond the reach of the Indian banks.

He fled to Britain in March 2016 just hours before a warrant for his arrest was issued in India. He was arrested in London in August last year and has been on bail since. In India he has been legally declared a “proclaimed offender” and been found in contempt of the country’s Supreme Court.

After ruling on the admissibility of much of the evidence on Monday, chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot will hear closing arguments from the Crown Prosecution Service representing the Indian government and from Mallya’s counsel.

A ruling on the extradition warrant is expected in May but the case is likely to be further prolonged as the losing side appeals through higher courts.

Meanwhile, it has been reported widely that Mallya is about to marry for the third time. His intended wife is 38-year-old Pinky Lalwani, a former flight attendant with Kingfisher.

She has been co-habiting with Mallya at his mansion in Hertfordshire.

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