AGENCIES, London: Barely a few weeks after the bankruptcy hearing in a UK court, fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s troubles have got a bit more sore for him as on Monday he lost an appeal in the UK High Court against the 2018 order to extradite him to India to face charges of financial irregularities.
Mallya is wanted in India to face charges of financial offences amounting to Rs 9,000cr borrowed by his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) from several Indian banks.
The case will now go to home secretary Priti Patel for a final decision on his extradition.
Justices Irwin and Elisabeth Laing handed down their verdict by email.
The flamboyant businessman was ordered to be extradited to India back in December 2018 on a request from the Indian government that has accused him of “knowingly misrepresenting” the profitability of his companies when he sought bank loans in 2009.
In their 46-page judgement, Justice Irwin and Justice Laing said: “(In) our judgment, the SDJ (senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot) was entitled to find that there was a prima facie case of fraud by false representation…(We) reject the submission that the SDJ was wrong to find a prima facie case of conspiracy to defraud”.
The judges rejected the six grounds on which Mallya’s lawyer, Claire Montgomery, had appealed, and upheld Arbuthnot’s judgement.
The judges said: “It is clear beyond any doubt that the SDJ directed herself properly. It is clear she had the criminal burden and standard in mind when she considered whether there was a prima facie case”.
“The role of an extradition court considering this question is to consider whether a tribunal of fact, properly directed, could reasonably and properly convict on the basis of the evidence. The extradition court is, emphatically, not required itself to be sure of guilt in order to send the case to the Home Secretary”.
“The Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the Indian government, argued that there was at least a case that Mallya had to answer back home and a reasonable jury could conclude that the businessman and his company indulged in conspiracy, fraud, and used loans for unintended purposes, including part of the loans going to his motor racing team.
Mallya’s lawyer Claire Montgomery, on the other hand, has insisted that Mallya’s inability to repay bank loans was due to a genuine business failure and the result of wider challenges facing the aviation industry at the time.