On Wednesday, Vijay Mallya, former Chairman of United Spirits Limited (USL) appeared on front of the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the 2nd day of his High Court appeal where he challenged his extradition to India.
During the hearing, the prosecution exclaimed the “overwhelming evidence of dishonesty” on Mallya’a part.
Mallya, 64, is wanted in India on charges of money laundering, fraud, and even owes Rs. 9,000 crore in bank loans to the State Bank of Indian (SBI). Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who was representing the Indian Government countered the claims made by the defence that there is no prima facie case against the former boss of Kingfisher Airlines.
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Advocate Mark Summers, CPS, told the court that “There is enough in the 32,000 pages of overall evidence to fulfil the (extradition) treaty obligations that there is a case to answer” as he initiated his submission.
It will be concluded on Thursday.
Mallya, who sat in the public gallery during the hearing saw his legal team arguing on the widespread problems faced by the aviation industry in India, they mentioned the case of Jet Airways, which is another airlines which has collapsed in India. As Mallya entered the courtroom he said “Let’s hear the arguments in the court”.
The two judge bench comprising of Lord Justice Stephen Irwin, and Justice Elisabeth Laing heard the appeals and confirmed at the beginning of the hearing that verdict will not be pronounced immediately.
At the beginning of the 2nd day of the appeal, Mallya’s advocate, Clare Montgomery, restated the central defence, saying that there had been no fraud or misrepresentation on the part of her client (Vijay Mallya) and Kingfisher Airlines was another victim of the economic despair along with several other airlines.
Montgomery argued “The airline industry is littered with examples of struggling airlines being supported for strategic reasons”.
Her arguments focussed on trying to introduce the “multiple errors” in the verdict of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot which directed for the return of Mallya to India in December 2018. She also showed the multiple bank statements and the balance sheets again which were provided to the Indian banks when loans were sought as proof of full disclosure.
Summer, who challenged the arguments made by defence over the misrepresentation to the Indian banks said “There is not just a prima facie case but overwhelming evidence of dishonesty… and given the volume and depth of evidence the District Judge (Arbuthnot) had before her, the judgment is comprehensive and detailed with the odd error but nothing that impacts the prima facie case”.
Justice Irwin quoted Montgomery’s assertion, saying, this case is a “very dense case” and had asked for detailed chronology and complete documents from Mallya’s advocates no later than Monday, i.e. before they consider the verdict.
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On Tuesday, Montgomery opened her arguments with an attempt to establish that at the time of seeking loans from the banks, Mallya had no intentions of fraud as he is not a “fly by night figure, but an immensely wealthy man” who did not run a “Ponzi scheme” but Kingfishers was a very reputable airline company in India which, unfortunately, fell victim to economic despair along with other airlines.
She said, “She (Judge Arbuthnot) did not look at all of the evidence because if she had, she would not have fallen into the multiple errors that permeate her judgment”.
During the hearing, representatives from the Central Bureau of investigation (CBI), Indian High Commission in London, and Enforcement Directorate (ED) were present in the courtroom.
Former United Kingdom (UK) Home Secretary, Sajid Javid signed the order for the extradition of Mallya, but was given the permission to appeal against it given he meets one condition wherein he can successfully challenge the Government of India’s prima facie case against him of acquiring the bank loans with the intention of executing fraud.
After a year long extradition case, in December 2018, Judge Arbuthnot declared that the court found “clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds” and acknowledged the prima facie case of conspiracy of money laundering and fraud against Vijay Mallya. CPS represented the Indian Government then as well.
Mallya is out on bail at the moment which involved a bond of £ 650,000 (over Rs. 6 crore) and restrictions over his travel until the case is still being contested.