Sunday, December 03, 2017

Vijay Mallya to return to UK court as extradition trial begins

Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya, out on a 650,000-pound bail bond following his arrest by Scotland Yard over fraud and money laundering charges earlier this year, will return to Westminster Magistrates' Court in London tomorrow as his extradition trial begins.

The 61-year-old businessman, who has been in self-imposed exile in the UK since March 2016 when he left India, is wanted in India on charges relating to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines defaulting on loans from various Indian banks amounting to Rs 9,000 crore.

The former Rajya Sabha member has told PTI during his numerous court appearances in London over the last few months that he has "done nothing wrong" and described the allegations against him as "fabricated".

His defence team, led by barrister Clare Montgomery known as an expert in criminal and fraud law with the UK’s Matrix Chambers, will now present his case in court.

"We are keen to draw a line under all the material – evidential and non-evidential," she had said during the last case management hearing on November 20, when Mallya's defence team presented a running order of expert witnesses to be deposed in the case.

The trial is set to open with opening arguments, followed by the witness statement of Dr B Humphreys, who is an aviation expert.

Others expected to give their statements for the defence include Margaret Sweeney, chief accountant at Force India Formula One racing team, Professor Lau as an expert on the Indian legal system, and Dr Alan Mitchell, a licensed medical practitioner and a former medical officer with the Scottish prison system.

It was Dr Mitchell’s testimony that had a major impact on another Indian extradition request in October, that of alleged bookie Sanjeev Chawla – a key accused in the cricket match - fixing scandal involving former South African captain Hanse Cronje in 2000.

Mallya, who has been based at his Hertfordshire estate called Ladywalk in the village of Tewin, around 30 miles from London, had responded with a firm "no" on being formally asked in court if he consented to being extradited to India on the charges relating to his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines.
03/12/17 PTI/