London, Apr 18: Vijay Mallya, the subject of an extradition request from India for alleged financial irregularities, was arrested by Scotland Yard here on Tuesday morning, beginning a process that may be drawn over months, if not years.
The Westminster Magistrates’ Court later granted him bail on a 650,000 pound bond. The next hearing of the case will be on May 17.
It said: “Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Extradition Unit have this morning, Tuesday 18 April, arrested a man on an extraction warrant. Vijay Mallya, 61 (18/12/1955), was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud.”
Mallya, who arrived in London in March last year and had his passport revoked later, is wanted in India for defaulting on loans worth around Rs 9,000 crore related to Kingfisher Airlines that was grounded in 2012.
His extradition figured in talks between finance minister Arun Jaitley and Prime Minister Theresa May and chancellor Philip Hammond during Jaitley’s visit to London in February.
A meeting of home department officials from both countries discussed extraditions and exchanged lists of people sought in both countries in New Delhi in February.
During his visit, Jaitley, without naming Mallya, remarked at an event at the London School of Economics that “democracy is liberal enough to permit defaulters to stay”.
“Many thought that when you take loan from the banks, the money need not be repaid and you can come to London and stay out here...and democracy is liberal enough to permit defaulters to stay here. That normal needs to be cracked,” he had said.
“It is the first time that you have strong action being taken. In fact, it has never happened that defaulters are on the run. The fact that they are on the run and their properties are being attached, is a signal that India as a country is sending for the first time. Otherwise, we had learned to live with defaulters.”
According to the United Kingdom’s extradition procedure, India’s request was certified by the British home secretary on February 21 and sent to the Westminster magistrates court for issuing a warrant of arrest.
Mallya is among several Indian citizens wanted for alleged offences in India, but so far there has been only one extradition since a treaty was signed with the UK in September 1992. Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel was extradited in October 2016 in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Sources told HT that one more Indian citizen is likely to be extradited soon. Others sought by India include Tiger Hanif, who has exhausted all legal avenues to avoid extradition but has made a final appeal to the home secretary, who is yet to decide on it.
Recently, a consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India managed to sell Mallya’s iconic Kingfisher villa in Goa after three failed attempts at auction.
The seafront villa, which was Mallya’s party pad, was bought by actor-businessman Sachiin Joshi for Rs 73 crore. The villa was among the assets Mallya pledged to his lenders, who took possession of the property in May 2016.
The villa was legally owned by United Breweries Holdings, the parent of the Kingfisher Airline. PTI