Vijay Mallya extradition ruling expected on Monday
The long-running hearing into India’s request to extradite Vijay Mallya, the former head of United Spirits, should come to a critical point on Monday with a ruling expected.
Dame Emma Arbuthnot, the senior magistrate at Westminster Magistrates Court, is expected to rule on whether the former head of United Spirits should be returned to India to face charges of fraud and money laundering involving more than £1 billion.
The case, which began on 4 December last year, centres on whether Mallya ever intended to repay the £1.15 billion he was lent by a consortium of Indian banks to prop up his disastrous Kingfisher Airlines.
The creditors claim he diverted the money into other activities: Mallya has consistently maintained that he has done nothing wrong and that he has sufficient assets to meet all his liabilities. He claims he is the subject of a political witch-hunt.
Earlier this week, Mallya renewed his offer to repay the debts associated with Kingfisher Airlines’ collapse, but only the principal. “Please take it”, he tweeted.
Airlines struggling financially partly becoz of high ATF prices. Kingfisher was a fab airline that faced the highest ever crude prices of $ 140/barrel. Losses mounted and that’s where Banks money went.I have offered to repay 100 % of the Principal amount to them. Please take it.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) December 5, 2018
That is unlikely to persuade the creditor banks to accept because the offer does not include a considerable sum in accrued interest. Indian courts have already seized considerable assets from Mallya and the banks will hope for repayment in full once the various cases are concluded.
Nor, observers in Delhi suggest, would repayment address the charges of fraud and money laundering Mallya faces.
In India Mallya has been declared a proclaimed offender and has been held in contempt of the country’s Supreme Court for failure to make a full declaration of his global assets.
He fled to the UK in March 2016 following an alleged tip off that he was about to be arrested. He says he left India as part of a normal lifestyle pattern.
Since then India has succeeded in imposing a global freeze on his assets and he has been living on an allowance of £18,350 a week. Since August 2017 he has been on bail of £650,000 and has had to surrender his travel documents.
His personal plane was impounded and sold, as was his yacht and numerous Indian properties. His Force India Formula 1 grand prix team went into administration and Mallya lost his stake before it was rescued. He no longer has any influence at Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Indian Premier League cricket franchise he ran.
If the hearing goes against Mallya, in the normal course of events the British Home Secretary would have two months in which to order his enforced deportation to India.
But no matter how Lady Arbuthnot rules, observers expect to losing side to appeal against her judgement. This will send the case upward within the English and Welsh judicial system, with Mallya expected to remain on bail for some time yet.