UK court orders Mallya's extradition; says there's prima facie case against the tycoon
A UK court on Monday ordered Vijay Mallya's extradition after concluding that the "flashy billionaire" does have a case to answer in the Indian courts over substantial "misrepresentations" of his financial dealings, in a major boost to India's efforts to bring back the businessman wanted for alleged bank fraud and money laundering amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores.
Delivering the verdict at Westminster Magistrates' Court here, Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot said there is a prima facie case against Mallya and that she is satisfied that his human rights would not be infringed in Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where he is to be held on being extradited.
"Having considered the evidence as a whole, there is a case to answer There is clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds and I find a prima facie case that Mallya was involved in a conspiracy to launder money," Judge Arbuthnot concluded.
"There was no evidence which allowed me to find that if extradited Mallya was at real risk of suffering a flagrant denial of justice," she said, adding that she is sending the case to the Home Secretary of State for a decision to be taken on whether to order his extradition.
Under India's extradition treaty with the UK, the sign off on the extradition order is made by the UK home secretary, in this case senior British Pakistani minister Sajid Javid, who has two months to formally order the extradition.
Meanwhile, Mallya has the right to lodge an appeal in the UK High Court against the Chief Magistrate's order but that appeal would only be addressed once Javid has made his decision on the extradition order, until which time Mallya remains on the same bail conditions as before.
"I am disappointed that the judge felt I made misrepresentations to IDBI bank and persuaded them to loan money to Kingfisher Airlines. Be that as it may, the judge is perfectly entitled to make whatever judgment she thought fit. I have my rights," Mallya told reporters after the verdict.
He said his team would consider the judgment in detail before deciding the next course of action.
Judge Arbuthnot was very categorical as she summarised her findings in court against 62-year-old Mallya, with the key word of her verdict being "misrepresentation" by him of the state of his company, now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, to acquire loans.
She was equally critical of the Indian banks for not using "common sense" when such loans were sanctioned.
"It is either a case that the various continuing failures were by design and with a motive (possibly financial), which is not clear from the evidence that has been put in front of me, or it is a case of a bank who were in the thrall of this glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense and persuading them to put their own rules and regulations to one side," she noted.
She said Mallya was not above using "round robin" methods to use the funds acquired for purposes other than specified to the banks.
"There is a prima facie case of making false representations to make a gain for himself [Mallya] or a loss to another," she noted.
Further dismissing Mallya's defence claims that the case against him was politically motivated, the court ruled there is "no sign of a false case being mounted against him".
"I find that because both the Congress and the BJP are blaming him and others for the state banks' losses, that does not mean that he is being prosecuted for his political opinions, even in the wide sense of the word," the judge said.
"I do not accept that the courts in India are there to do what the politicians tell them to do I do not find any international consensus which would enable me to find that the judges in India are corrupt," she said.
The court accepted the Indian government's contention that because Mallya has such a "high profile", his trial in India will be under great scrutiny and he will be able to raise with the court any overly prejudicial publicity.
"Any suggestion that CBI courts are too pliable when it comes to CBI cases is not borne out by reliable evidence," the judge said, specifically adding that the defence attacks against former CBI special director, Rakesh Asthana, were unfounded.
Addressing the jail conditions, the judge expressed her satisfaction with the evidence provided by the Indian government, describing the video of Barrack 12 at Arthur Road Jail as an accurate portrayal of the conditions which will apply to Mallya. However, the court made a specific reference to special medical conditions being made available to the businessman, who is described as "far from healthy".
She made it very clear that the assurances provided by the Indian government on prison conditions should not be breached.
In some criticism of the Indian authorities' conduct during the course of the trial, the judge was very critical of the paperwork submitted by the Indian authorities, which she said had "doubled the work of this court".
In New Delhi, CBI spokesperson welcomed the verdict, saying: "We hope to bring him soon and conclude the case." Earlier, the former Kingfisher Airlines boss sought to disprove the narrative that he has "stolen" money and said his offer to repay the principal amount to the Indian banks was "not bogus".
The verdict marks a significant point in the year-long trial, which commenced on December 4 last year and has undergone a series of hearings over the course of the year.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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