Tycoon Vijay Mallya can be extradited to India, UK judge rules

The drinks tycoon Vijay Mallya can be extradited to India to face allegations of fraud, a UK judge has ruled.

Mallya, the chairman of the UB Group, is wanted in his home country over debts incurred by his defunct Kingfisher Airline.

The 62-year-old, who built his fortune in the drinks industry, denies any wrongdoing and has been fighting to remain in Britain.

In a judgment passed at Westminster magistrates court on Monday, however, the senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot said that there was a case to be answered.

She said she would refer Mallya’s case to the home secretary for a decision on whether or not to order his extradition.

Arbuthnot found that Mallya had misrepresented how loans received from banks would be used. She said bankers had been charmed by a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy” into losing their common sense.

Mallya is alleged to have knowingly misled largely state-owned banks about the fortunes of the failing airline, before laundering the cash to fund his Formula 1 motor racing team and other projects.

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India’s enforcement directorate has been investigating the tycoon’s debts linked to the airline, which amount to £977m.

A lawyer for Mallya previously argued that the fraud allegations were politically motivated and fitted a pattern of corruption charges surfacing in Indian election years.

The Central Bank of India opened a criminal investigation into Mallya in 2015, and the Metropolitan police’s extradition unit arrested him in April last year on behalf of the Indian authorities.. He had entered the UK on a valid passport in March 2016.

Mallya, who appeared in court dressed in a pinstripe suit with a red tie, barely reacted as the judge delivered her ruling.

He was once hailed as India’s version of the British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson for his investments in the airline, a Formula 1 team and an Indian Premier League cricket club.

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