Mallya gets bail in UK court, says he can prove his case

RSTV Bureau
London : Former Indian politician and billionaire businessman Vijay Mallya arrives for his extradition hearing arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mallya was arrested in London in April on behalf of authorities in India, where he is wanted on charges of money laundering and bank demands that he pay back more than a billion dollars in loans extended to his now-defunct airline. AP/PTI Photo

London : Former Indian politician and billionaire businessman Vijay Mallya arrives for his extradition hearing arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Mallya was arrested in London in April on behalf of authorities in India, where he is wanted on charges of money laundering and bank demands that he pay back more than a billion dollars in loans extended to his now-defunct airline. AP/PTI Photo

Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for defaulting on several loans, appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Britain in connection with a case for his extradition to India. Mallya has been granted bail until December 4 in the case and the matter will be heard next on July 6.

Outside the court, the former chief of erstwhile Kingfisher airlines, who has been out on bail since his arrest in April, claimed that he had “enough evidence” to plead his case.

“I have not alluded any court…I have enough evidence to prove my case,” Mallya told reporters.

“I don’t make statements to the media because anything I say is twisted. There is enough evidence, that will speak,” he said.

“I go to cheer India in a cricket match and it becomes a media frenzy. It’s better I don’t say anything,” he added.

Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot will preside over what is referred to as a “case management hearing”, when a final hearing date is expected to be set. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will present the case in court on behalf of the Indian authorities.

Mallya’s defence team is being led by the firm Joseph Hague Aaronson LLP. They have instructed barrister Clare Montgomery, a specialist in criminal, regulatory and fraud law, to argue in court on their behalf.

The CPS have instructed Mark Summers, a leading expert in extradition and international law, to act as barrister for the CPS Extradition Unit and the Government of India.

The CPS had met a joint team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in London last month to thrash out details of the case.

“Our aim is to build a strong, infallible case and these meetings will help resolve issues across the table. The CPS will be arguing based on documents provided by CBI and ED, therefore a joint team is here to address queries they may have,” official sources had said after the meeting held in early May.

A CBI official had also flown in from Delhi for the hearing today.

Mallya is wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines’ default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000 crores. He has been in the UK since March 2016 and was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18. He was released on conditional bail a few hours later after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds, assuring the court of abiding by all conditions associated with extradition proceedings, such as the surrender of his passport and a ban on him possessing any travel documents.

An initial case management hearing date of May 17 had been postponed to June 13.

If the District Judge rules in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, the UK home secretary must order Mallya’s extradition within two months of the appropriate day.

However, the case can go through a series of appeals before arriving at a conclusion.

India and the UK have an Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement. Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel was sent back to India last October to face trial in connection with his involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002. But unlike Mallya, he had submitted to the extradition order without legal challenge.

(With inputs from agencies)