A British court was told today that tycoon Vijay Mallya has a case of fraud to answer in India and he should be sent back to stand trial. In the next eight hearings, which will end on December 14, the court will be asked to decide whether to extradite the 61-year-old.
The Crown Prosecution Service, which is arguing on behalf of the Indian government, said Mr Mallya had fraudulently misrepresented the status of Kingfisher Airlines to procure loans from IDBI and State Bank of India.
He deliberately avoided re-paying the Rs 9,000-crore loan and misused the money. He had stashed the money – borrowed to rejuvenate his ailing Kingfisher Airlines – in different banks including “some chunks in HSBC London”, the prosecution said, and made huge withdrawals in Goa. He spent part of it for towards motor racing and “spent the money to pay rent for two corporate jets which he largely used exclusively for personal use,” the prosecution said.
Mr Mallya’s fondness for expensive cars is well-known. The tycoon, who left for UK after the banks got together aiming to recover the loans, has bought a house in north London’s Tewin village, from Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton. The locals there say he also has a fleet of expensive cars.
He was also India’s representative to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) World Motor Sports Council (WMSC) and was asked to step down this July following instructions from the sports ministry.
The Crown Prosecution Service also told the court that when the banks demanded re-payment, Vijay Mallya “avoided attempts to pay back the loan”. He never intended to pay back the loan, the prosecution said, and to prove that, presented some emails from his account.
One of the emails, dated the September 3, 2009, sent before applying for loan at the IDBI, said Kingfisher was suffering huge losses. Weeks later, Mr Mallya applied for loan at the IDBI projecting huge profits for the company.
Other emails were presented which indicated Vijay Mallya tried to avoid various methods of repaying the loan. The CPS also argued that Mr Mallya did not disclose to banks and courts about the 40 million dollars he got paid In 2014-15, by British alcohol distiller Diageo. It said the money was diverted to a trust for the benefit of his children.
The boss of now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, who has pleaded not guilty, had arrived with a team carrying four large boxes of evidence. But the court turned down his advocate’s plea to allow him to sit with the lawyers. Mr Mallya had to sit behind a glass-windowed dock, from where he watched the proceedings.
Mallya’s barrister, Clare Montgomery, told the judge that she had hoped to set out the defence’s opening arguments on the first day as well. But the prosecution said it would “not be rushed” and would give a complete chronology of events.
“The focus of our case will be on his (Mr Mallya’s) conduct and how he misled the bank and misused the proceeds,” said barrister Mark Summers of the Crown Prosecution Service.
Before the trial started, Mr Mallya insisted that he was not indulged in any wrong-doing. “I have said repeatedly that the charges are false, fabricated and baseless. I have nothing to say, submissions in court will be self-evident,” he told reporters.
The beginning of the trial, though, had been delayed by a fire alarm due to which the courtroom had to be evacuated.