London/New Delhi: A British court has ordered that Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya should face extradition to India on financial fraud allegations.
Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Monday she would send the case to Britain’s Home Secretary for review and action. She said there were substantial misrepresentations in Mallya’s characterizations of his financial dealings.
She said loans were obtained based on false statements and that banks had been fooled by Mallya’s flamboyant personality and purported vast wealth.
The 62-year-old tycoon can still appeal the ruling, which was made in Westminster Magistrates’ Court. He remains free on bail, but the judge told Mallya she would “take your money away” if he failed to show up for future hearings.
The judge said Mallya suffers from many medical problems including coronary artery disease, but she denied his claim that he could not receive adequate medical care in prison.
Arbuthnot did suggest he be allowed to be treated by his own doctors and that the government of India provide him with a wide array of needed medications.
She also said being in prison might require him to cut back on his alcohol consumption.
The judge said his prison cell in India would have adequate light, a bathroom with a shower, fans for ventilation, and a sleeping pad. She said he would have access to ample water supplies as his doctors had requested.
Mallya declined to say whether an appeal is planned. He showed no emotion and drank from a plastic water bottle when the ruling was announced.
He is accused by India of money laundering and conspiracy involving hundreds of millions of dollars. He has denied wrongdoing in repeated court appearances.
Mallya was once a leading figure among India’s business elite.
Following is the chronology of the case and its origin:
9 May 2005: United Breweries Holdings Limited (UBHL) Chairman Vijay Mallya’s luxury airline – Kingfisher Airlines – starts commercial operations.
2013: A consortium of Indian banks led by State Bank of India approached United Breweries Holdings Ltd for the payback of a loan amounting to Rs 6,493 crore on behalf of Kingfisher Airlines.
3 March 2016: Mallya fled from India and took refuge in London.
February 2017: India sent an extradition request to the UK.
18 April 2017: Scotland Yard arrests Mallya on an extradition warrant after he surrenders at a central London police station. He is released on bail within hours after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds.
13 June 2017: The first case management hearing takes place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in the extradition case. Mallya’s bail is extended until December 2017, for the start of the extradition trial.
6 July 2017: Mallya appears for a hearing in the case despite an exemption from appearance in court.
14 September 2017: Another case management hearing in the case when Mallya’s defence team informs the court of plans to depose six experts they intend to rely upon in their evidence.
3 October 2017: Mallya is re-arrested in a money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and is released on the same bail conditions, as the CBI and ED cases are clubbed together for the purposes of the extradition trial.
20 November 2017: A pre-trial hearing in the case takes note of additional “supplemental” charges of money laundering to the previous charges of fraud, amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore.
4 December 2017: Mallya’s extradition trial begins.
5 December 2017: Mallya’s defence team lays out its counter-arguments, claiming there was no evidence to support the “nonsensical” case of fraud against their client.
7 December 2017: The hearing resumes with Mallya’s defence claiming his offer to pay back nearly 80 per cent of the principal loan amount owed to the Indian banks, led by State Bank of India, had been rejected.
11 December 2017: Mallya’s defence continues deposing its experts and tries to establish that the case against him is “politically motivated”.
12 December 2017: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) takes Mallya’s defence team’s political expert to the task, claiming that he had relied on flawed material to discredit Indian investigation agencies like the CBI and ED in his testimony.
13 December 2017: Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where Mallya is to be held on extradition, comes into focus as the defence sought to discredit its suitability through the witness statements of UK-based prison service expert Dr Alan Mitchell and the CPS dismiss his claims.
14 December 2017: Both sides conclude the evidence stage of the trial, with the case moving into 2018 to complete all procedures.
11 January: The hearing returns for the judge to hear arguments for and against the admissibility of certain evidence in the case.
16 March: The judge notes that it is “blindingly obvious” to her that rules were being broken by Indian banks, which sanctioned some of the loans to the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines as the case returns for hearing.
27 April: The CBI gets a boost as the judge confirms that the bulk of the evidence submitted by the Indian authorities in the extradition case will be deemed admissible.
31 July: The court asks the Indian authorities to submit a video of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai to allay all doubts over its suitability as the case edges towards a conclusion.
12 September: At the final hearing in the case, Mallya tells media outside the court that he met finance minister Arun Jaitley before he left India in March 2016. Jaitley instantly issues a statement to dismiss the comments as factually incorrect.
10 December: Westminster Magistrates’ Court judge ordered the extradition of Mallya. The UK Home Secretary will have to sign Mallya’s extradition order within two months. However, Mallya’s defence team has a chance to appeal in higher courts in the UK against the verdict.