Fugitive Indian tycoon denies fraud

Mr Vijay Mallya arriving for an extradition hearing at a London court yesterday. He fled India last year owing more than S$1.38 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks.
Mr Vijay Mallya arriving for an extradition hearing at a London court yesterday. He fled India last year owing more than S$1.38 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Tycoon Vijay Mallya insisted he was innocent as he appeared in a London court yesterday over an extradition request from India, where he is accused of fraud.

"I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them," said the flamboyant financier, who co-owns Formula One team Force India.

"I have not eluded any court. If it is my lawful duty to be here, I'm happy to be here," he added. "I've given enough evidence to prove my case."

Mr Ben Watson, Mr Mallya's representative, told the preliminary hearing that his client could face a second extradition request, including a "separate set of charges".

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Mr Mallya fled India last year owing more than US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.

India submitted an extradition request to Britain in early February after investigators demanded that the 61-year-old be brought home to face charges.

Mr Mallya, known for his lavish lifestyle, made Kingfisher beer a global brand and ran a now-defunct airline with the same name.

He stepped down as the director of the Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.

He caused a stir last week when he attended India's cricket match against South Africa in London, where Indian fans met him with shouts of chor, chor (thief, thief).

His financial dealings are being investigated by the federal Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, a financial crimes agency.

Mr Mallya, who lives in a US$15 million mansion in England's county of Hertfordshire, has denied absconding and has criticised the media for what he calls a "witch hunt".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Fugitive Indian tycoon denies fraud'. Print Edition | Subscribe