Vijay Mallya's extradition order a boost for Modi govt ahead of elections, but process likely to take 2-3 months

New Delhi: After netting Vinay Mittal, Christian Michel, Rajiv Saxena and Deepak Talwar, India's investigating agencies received another boost on Monday — UK has approved an order for the extradition of businessman Vijay Mallya to India to face judicial proceedings for allegedly defrauding banks and laundering money to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid had signed the order to have Mallya extradited on 3 February and had given him 14 days to appeal.

"On 3 February, the secretary of state, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Vijay Mallya's extradition to India. Vijay Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money laundering offences," a statement from Spokesperson of the UK Home Office said.

Although a big boost for the Narendra Modi government, the entire process to bring back Mallya, who is likely to exhaust all legal options to prevent his extradition, may take more than two-three months.

In the first response, since the UK Home Secretary's order, Mallya on Tuesday said he will explore the legal options available in the UK.

On 10 December, 2018, the Westminster Magistrates' Court in London had found that the 63-year-old business tycoon had a case to answer before Indian courts and had also observed that there was strong evidence for the home secretary to decide on whether to order Mallya's extradition. The court had said there was prima facie evidence to prove the money laundering charges against Mallya, and that he had used his bank loans to finance two vanity projects — a corporate jet and his Force India Formula One team.

Vijay Mallyas extradition order a boost for Modi govt ahead of elections, but process likely to take 2-3 months

File photo of Vijay Mallya. PTI

In the case of his Formula One team, Mallya is believed to have used IDBI's loan proceeds to clear a bill discounting facility with the Bank of Baroda and to release credit facilities that were later used to fund sponsorship payments to his motor racing team in July 2010. The timings of the payments were significant: in 2009 and 2010, Kingfisher Airlines had made payments to Force India at a time when the carrier was struggling to remain in business. Money from the loans was transferred to Axis Bank and then to HSBC in London. The amounts were said to be payments for operating expenses related to flights, but the funds were, in reality, transferred to Force India.

The investigating agencies had argued that Mallya had private meetings with bank officials, including two meetings with the IDBI chairman. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had claimed that IDBI officials had conspired with Mallya and disbursed loans to Kingfisher Airlines despite its weak financials, negative net worth and below-par credit rating in violation of the bank's corporate loan policy. The investigators also alleged that Kingfisher Airlines had fraudulently utilised significant portions of loan funds to service the existing debt, had diverted the loan funds to such purposes other than avowed and had remitted substantial amounts outside India on the pretext of payment of lease rentals.

While the CBI's Mumbai unit was investigating the case, Mallya fled to the UK in March 2016, and the case was subsequently handed over to a Special Investigation Team of the agency. During the extradition hearing in the UK, the court had found that Kingfisher and Mallya had substantially misrepresented evidence. In fact, in 2009, in his statement of assets and liabilities to IDBI Bank, Mallya had mentioned two assets in South Africa, but these were not reflected in the subsequent assets and liability statements. He had continued to conceal the same from 2009 to 2015. The UK court had also observed that bank officials had not followed the norms and had processed and sanctioned the loans even though they should not have been sanctioned.

Moreover, after availing these loans, Mallya had willfully and deliberately attempted to divert the funds, lying in his accounts to evade his obligations under the personal guarantees executed by him, the court had found. It had also ruled that Mallya's case was not a politically-motivated trial, and there was no evidence that his extradition was being sought for extraneous considerations. The court was satisfied with the assurances and materials the Indian government had provided regarding prison and human rights conditions and ruled that the video of barrack no. 12 at Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail accurately portrayed an adequately large space, a high ceiling, fans, natural light, etc. This is the jail where Mallya will be spending his time after extradition to India.

At a public rally in Madurai last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that people who have cheated and looted the country will be brought to justice, regardless of whether they are in India or abroad. Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the latest decision in the Mallya case comes as a shot in the arm for the Modi government.

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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2019 11:19:33 IST

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