Oman Observer

Mallya’s extradition decision set for Dec 10

LONDON: The ruling on whether Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya can be extradited from Britain to India to face fraud charges will be given on December 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 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”.
Mallya said: “I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left… repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth,” he told reporters outside a Westminster Magistrate court.
Mallya also claimed that he was disliked by both the major parties in India — the BJP and Congress.
“I am a political football… As far as I am concerned, I have made a comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. I hope the honourable judges will consider it favourably.”
Asked if he could settle his dues, Mallya, who headed the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines and the United Breweries, said: “Obviously. That is why a settlement offer has been made.”
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.”
— Reuters/IANS