UK court says beer baron Vijay Mallya should be extradited to India

Posted December 10, 2018 9:55 a.m. EST

— Business tycoon Vijay Mallya should be extradited from the United Kingdom to India to face fraud charges, a London court ruled Monday.

The decision was confirmed by R. K. Gaur, a spokesperson for India's Central Bureau of Investigation. The extradition must also be approved by the UK Secretary of State.

Mallya, who was once known as the "King of Good Times," has waged an extended court battle to avoid extradition to India, where he has been charged with fraud and money laundering.

The beer baron took over as chairman of his father's United Breweries Group — known for India's hugely popular Kingfisher Beer — in 1983, and eventually poured money into a Formula 1 team and Indian Premier League cricket.

But the case against him is centered around Kingfisher Airlines, the carrier he founded that went bust six years ago.

He's being pursued by 17 Indian banks, who are trying to recover an estimated $1.3 billion in loans to Kingfisher Airlines. He has been charged by Indian investigators with diverting money from one of those loans into other assets and businesses and misleading his creditors. Mallya has repeatedly denied the charges.

"With respect where have I defrauded Banks? I did not borrow a single rupee," he said in a tweet on December 6. "The borrower was Kingfisher Airlines. Money was lost due to a genuine and sad business failure. Being held as guarantor is not fraud."

The banks asked India's Supreme Court to prevent Mallya from leaving the country in March 2016, but he had already departed for the United Kingdom.

Mallya denied fleeing his debts at the time, referring to allegations that he was absconding as "rubbish." India revoked his passport in April 2016.

Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley on Monday welcomed the court's decision on Mallya.

"Great Day for India. No one who cheats India will go scot free. The Judgement of UK's Court is welcome," he said on Twitter.

Mallya told reporters outside the court that he would continue to pursue the case in the United Kingdom.

"I have my rights," he said. "My legal team will consider various options and then I will decide going forward."