Indian authorities are one step closer to extraditing beleaguered businessman Vijay Mallya as UK Home Secretary on Monday (February 4) signed an order approving the same.
Mallya now has 14 days starting today to appeal against the UK Home Secretary’s order.
According to a UK Home Office spokesperson, On 3rd February the Secretary of State, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India.
Union minister Arun Jaitley lauded the Modi government on Mallya’s extradition and took the opportunity to slam the Opposition that is uniting in support of Mamata Banerjee’s war against CBI.
Jaitley wrote on Twitter: Modi Government clears one more step to get Mallya extradited while Opposition rallies around the Saradha Scamsters.
Vijay Mallya is accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, make false representations and launder money, added the spokesperson.
Responding to the order, Vijay Mallya said he would initiate the appeal process soon.
“After the decision was handed down on December 10,2018 by the Westminster Magistrates Court, I stated my intention to appeal. I could not initiate the appeal process before a decision by the Home Secretary. Now I will initiate the appeal process,” he said in a tweet.
Mallya claimed properties worth more than Rs 13,000 crore have been attached in India whereas the claim is Rs 9,000 crore.
“Every morning I wake up to yet another attachment by the DRT recovery officer. Value already crossed 13,000 crore. Banks claim dues including all interest of 9,000 crores which is subject to review. How far will this go and well beyond? Justified?” said Mallya in a tweet.
Reacting to the approval of Mallya’s extradition, government sources welcomed the order and are awaiting “early completion” of the legal process involved in the process.
“We have taken note of the decision of the UK Home Secretary to sign on the order for Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India. While we welcome the UK Government’s decision in the matter, we await the early completion of the legal process for his extradition,” government sources told news agency ANI.
The Westminster Magistrates’ Court had in December 2018 ordered Mallya’s extradition, in a major boost to India’s efforts to bring back the fugitive wanted for alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore.
According to procedure, the UK Home Secretary Savid Javid had to clear Mallya’s extradition within two months which was to expire this week.
On January 2, Vijay Mallya was declared as the country’s first fugitive economic offender under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
A special PMLA court in Mumbai branded Mallya as the first fugitive economic offender following an appeal filed by the Enforcement Directorate, which is one of the investigative agencies probing Mallya.
The order is likely to offer a major boost to the Narendra Modi-led government, which faces elections in just a couple of months.
Recently, the Indian government successfully extradited Deepak Talwar, Rajeev Saxena and Christian Michel in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.
A case was registered against Mallya on July 29, 2015 including Kingfisher Airlines Limited (KAL), A Raghunathan, chief financial officer of KAL and unidentified officials of IDBI.
The allegation was the IDBI officials conspired with private persons, sanctioned and disbursed loans to KAL despite its weak financial situation, negative net worth and below par credit rating in violation of IDBI’s corporate loan policy.
During the investigation, the agency found that Mallya’s KAL had fraudulently utilised significant portions of loan funds to service the existing debt, diverted the loan funds to such purposes other than that avowed. Substantial amounts were remitted outside India on the pretext of payment of lease, rentals, etc.
Vijay Mallya, the CEO of KAL fled from India to UK on March 2, 2016 after a look-out-circular was diluted by CBI.
“After taking cognisance of offences, special judge, CBI cases approved a request seeking extradition of accused Vijay Mallya from United Kingdom, which was forwarded to the UK authorities by MHA on February 9, 2017. The extradition request led to initiation of extradition process against the fugitive in April 2017,” said a CBI officer.
The extradition process lasted for over an year in the court of senior district judge (the chief magistrate), Emma Arbuthnot, London, UK.
“During such proceedings, accused Vijay Mallya engaged experts from the fields of Banking, Aviation Sector, Prisons Conditions/Human Rights, Political Economics and Law, apart from erstwhile officials of UB Group and Force India Formula One Team Ltd. to defend himself. Mallya defended himself by making submissions claiming about business failure and that the trial against him was motivated by extraneous factors including media frenzy, political motivations etc,” added the officer.