Vijay Mallya arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain on September 12. (REUTERS Photo)
No evidence to justify extradition, Mallya’s lawyer to court
LONDON, September 10 (Reuters): The ruling on whether Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya can be extradited from Britain to India to face fraud charges will be given on Dec. 10, a London judge said on Wednesday, after she heard closing submissions in the case.
India wants to extradite 62-year-old Indian businessman from Britain to face criminal action relating to loans taken out by his defunct Kingfisher Airlines and Indian authorities want to recover about $1.4 billion they say Kingfisher owes.
His lawyer, Clare Montgomery, told London’s Westminster Magistrates Court that the Indian government had failed to provide any substantial evidence to justify extraditing him.
The Indian government says Kingfisher took out a series of loans from Indian banks, in particular the state-owned IDBI, with the aim of palming off huge losses which Mallya knew the failing airline was going to sustain.
It argues Mallya, who moved to Britain in March 2016, had no intention of repaying money it borrowed from IDBI in 2009 and the loans had been taken out under false pretences, on the basis of misleading securities and with the money spent differently to how the bank had been told.
Mallya told media outside of court that he had met Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to settle matters before he left the country. Jaitley denied a settlement had been reached in a Facebook post, saying he had declined to hold an audience with Mallya by telling him there was “no point talking to me”.
Montgomery said the evidence she and the Indian government had provided showed Kingfisher (KFA) had been clear about what the loans were for – to secure the airline’s viable future – and that it had been open about its losses.
“Full and complete and accurate information was provided and I can demonstrate that,” Montgomery said, saying suggestions that there was a “secret package of knowledge” about Kingfisher’s financial position which was not provided to IDBI were “utterly unfounded”.
She said the Indian authorities had relied on testimony from people who were not involved at the time of the loans and they had failed to show any false statements had been made.
“The idea that this was a carefully thought out dishonest strategy promoted by him in the knowledge that KFA was bound to fail is just nonsense,” Montgomery told England’s Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who will decide the case.
“This is a financial disaster for him as much as the banks.”
The Indian government’s Enforcement Directorate, which fights financial crimes, is seeking to declare Mallya a “fugitive economic offender” and to confiscate 125 billion rupees worth of his assets.
Mark Summers, the lawyer acting for the Indian government, said it was not their case that Mallya had taken out the loans intending that the airline should fail, but his intention was if it did, he would not have to repay them.
He said the optimistic message Kingfisher had given the bank about its future when it took out the loan was not even vaguely consistent with a much more downbeat internal assessment.