Monday, 24 January 2022

Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya makes assets ‘offer’ to Indian court


LONDON: Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya said on Tuesday he had made an “unconditional offer” to an Indian court in a bid to settle fraud charges, as he continues to fight extradition from Britain.

Mallya, chairman of the UB Group drinks conglomerate and chief executive of the financially ailing Force India Formula One team, said it did not entail pleading guilty to any crimes.

“I have not included any clemency plea or plea bargain in my unconditional offer to the Karnataka High Court,” he told reporters outside a London court after the latest hearing in his legal battle against facing trial in his homeland.

“All we’ve said to the court (is), ‘Here are the assets… please sell them under judicial supervision, pay the banks, pay the other creditors’.”

Asked how any financial settlement in India could affect fraud charges filed against him, Mallya added that it was up to the Indian government.

“They have their legal advisers, I have mine, and if the way forward has to be decided before various judicial forums, that’s the way it’s going to be.”

Mallya, known for his lavish lifestyle, left India in March 2016 owing more than $1 billion after defaulting on loan payments to state-owned banks and allegedly misusing the funds.

The loans from the state-owned IDBI bank were intended to bail out his failed carrier Kingfisher Airlines, whose motto was “Fly the Good Times” but folded in 2012 under huge debts.

Indian authorities last year laid money-laundering charges against the tycoon, who dropped off India’s most wealthy list in 2014.

He was subsequently arrested in Britain and released on bail as he battles extradition, living in a sprawling $15 million (13 million euro) mansion in southeast England.

Heading into court on Tuesday, he again called the charges “completely false”.

“And now that the assets are before the court, and I’m in the hands of the court, I hope this will all end,” Mallya added.

Inside the courtroom, England’s Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot – who handles the country’s most complex extradition cases – delayed a decision on the case to Sept.12.

She has been considering concerns over conditions at the prison in the Indian city of Mumbai where Mallya will be held, including overcrowding and whether it provides Western-style toilets.

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