Former United Spirits boss Vijay Mallya wins right to appeal extradition to India
Vijay Mallya, the fugitive former head of India’s United Spirits, has successfully argued that he should be allowed to appeal against extradition.
After hearing arguments from Clare Montgomery QC, Mallya’s counsel, Mr Justice Leggatt and Mr Justice Popplewell, granted him permission appeal to the High Court in London that the decision in February by British Home Secretary Sajid Javid to order his extradition to India was ill-founded.
Mallya’s case will now be heard by the Court of Appeal at a date to be set. He will remain on bail until the hearing.
Mallya is wanted in India to face charges of fraud and money laundering involving £1.15 billion associated with loans to his Kingfisher Airlines which collapsed into bankruptcy in 2012.
The court was told that the former billionaire had been portrayed as “the personification of all of India’s financial ills” and would be held in a rat-infested, overcrowded cell in Mumbai if extradited.
Mallya, who previously dubbed himself “King of Good Times”, said in court filings that he had been “deliberately set up as the lightning rod of public anger at India’s bad debts” in a process encouraged by politicians in the governing party.
There was a “real risk” that “political pressures will undermine the fairness of any trial,” he said in court filings.
He attended the hearing accompanied by his son Siddharth and partner, the former Kingfisher hostess Pinki Lalwani.
Before entering court he said that he had more than enough money to repay all his creditors and “begged” the Indian government to “take it so that we can all get on with our lives”. He reiterated confidence in his legal team.
In court Ms Montgomery again argued that the collapse of Kingfisher was a business failure brought about by events immediately after the global financial crisis in 2008, not from any criminal intent.
She rejected the finding by Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster Magistrates Court in December 2018 that Mallya misrepresented Kingfisher’s financial situation to the consortium of creditor banks, saying that her client made the company’s financial position “abundantly clear”.
She also alleged that “the Government of India supplied documents late. By then the magistrate had already given her decision.”That made the extradition ruling unjust, she argued.
Mallya said outside court that he had a range of options open to him but declined to be specific.
The former United Spirits boss was arrested in London in April 2017 after a consortium of 17 banks accused him of wilfully defaulting on £1.15 billion debts accumulated by Kingfisher Airlines, essentially refusing to repay the state-owned banking consortium despite having the means to do so.