Kingfisher Airlines tycoon loses appeal against extradition to India

By Rupert Neate

The Indian multimillionaire businessman Vijay Mallya has lost his appeal against a decision to extradite him to India to face allegations of a £1bn fraud at his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

High court judges on Monday rejected Mallya’s appeal against a 2018 decision granting his extradition, ruling that there was a “prima facie case of fraud by false representation”.

The then home secretary Sajid Javid signed an order authorising Mallya’s extradition in February 2019, saying he was “accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money-laundering offences”.

Mallya, the self-proclaimed “king of the good times” who lives in a £11.5m mansion in the sleepy Hertfordshire village of Tewin, has previously dismissed the allegations that he fled India leaving a trail of £977m worth of debts as “ludicrous” and said the allegations were politically motivated. He has said he made an “unconditional” offer to pay what he owed in full in July 2018.

A judge ruled in December 2018 that Mallya had misrepresented how loans from Indian banks were used and the decision on his extradition was approved by Javid.

The senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot described Mallya as a “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”.

Mallya, 64, is alleged to have knowingly misled largely Indian state-owned banks about the fortunes of his failing Kingfisher airline, before laundering the cash to fund his former Force India Formula One team and other projects.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has singled out Mallya, accusing him of ripping off India and Indians.

“There is no place for corruption in India,” Modi said in previous comments referring to Mallya. “Those who looted the poor and middle classes will have to return what they have looted.”

Modi’s government has described Mallya – who used to travel the globe on a private jet with VJM painted in gold on the engines and wingtips – as a “fugitive from justice”.

Indian public outcry over Mallya was stoked by a lavish two-day 60th birthday party in 2015 for hundreds of guests at his Kingfisher Villa, a huge beachfront bungalow in Goa.

The party, which reportedly cost more than $2m (£1.5m), included performances by the Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam and Enrique Iglesias, who sang on stage with Mallya.