India fails in first bid to bring home tycoon Mallya from Britain to face creditors, will seek to extradite him

Vijay Mallya attends the launch of the Kingfisher 2014 calendar in Mumbai.
Vijay Mallya attends the launch of the Kingfisher 2014 calendar in Mumbai. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS/AFP) - India has failed in its initial attempt to secure the return of debt-strapped tycoon Vijay Mallya from Britain but New Delhi said on Wednesday (May 11) that it would continue to seek his repatriation to face his creditors.

Mallya flew to London two months ago, under pressure from bankers seeking to recover about US$1.4 billion (S$1.92 billion) owed by his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines. He has since said he is living in"forced exile".

India, which has revoked Mallya's diplomatic passport, requested on April 28 that he be deported but now acknowledges there is no immediate prospect this will happen because he has the right to remain in Britain.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that India will seek to extradite Mallya. Mr Jaitley told Parliament that Britain had refused to deport Mallya because he entered the country on a valid passport, even though it was later revoked.

"Their (UK authorities') procedures say that if his entry into the country was on a valid passport and later it got cancelled then that doesn't result in an automatic deportation," Mr Jaitley said. "There is another legal procedure for extradition which will continue."

Mr Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, said the British government had told India that Mallya does not require a valid passport as long as it was valid when his leave to remain in the country was granted.

"At the same time the UK acknowledges the seriousness of the allegations and is keen to assist Government of India (GoI),"Mr Swarup said in a statement to Reuters. "They have asked GoI to consider requesting mutual legal assistance or extradition."

The 60-year-old Mallya, a Formula 1 boss known as the "King of Good Times" for his party lifestyle, is the subject of a non-bailable warrant issued by a special judge in Mumbai.

India's Enforcement Directorate, a government agency set up to fight financial crime, has accused Mallya's UB Group of using 4.3 billion rupees (S$88.2 million) of bank loans to Kingfisher to buy property overseas.

Creditors, led by State Bank of India, have rejected an offer of partial repayment by Mallya, who had given a personal guarantee for the Kingfisher loan.

They have demanded that the former billionaire attend a hearing in India's Supreme Court.

Mallya has denied wrongdoing, calling the charges against him "preposterous". He has also offered a settlement to his creditors that they have so far refused to consider. No comment was immediately available from a Kingfisher spokesman.