Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya arrested in Britain

Kingfisher Airlines owner Vijay Mallya waves as he boards a new Airbus A380 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on May 7, 2007. The airline stopped operations in 2012. He was arrested in London on an extradition warrant for owing an estimated $1.3 billion in unpaid loans for the defunct company. UPI file photo

April 19 (UPI) — An Indian businessman who owes banks an estimated $1.3 billion in unpaid loans was arrested Tuesday in London on behalf of authorities in India, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

Vijay Mallya, 61, surrendered at a police station and was arrested on an extradition warrant. Later Tuesday, he was granted bail of $834,291 in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. The next hearing is scheduled for May 17.

Mallya posted on Twitter: “Usual Indian media hype. Extradition hearing in Court started today as expected.”

Mallya entered Britain on a valid passport in March 2016 but India revoked it one month later and formally sought extradition in February this year on charges of financial irregularities at his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

India and Britain have had an extradition treaty since 1993. The last fugitive to be extradited from Britain to India was Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel in 2016 for his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Mallya took over his father’s Kingfisher beer company in 1983 and later bought stakes in his own Formula One racing team and a cricket franchise.

He founded Kingfisher Airlines in 2003 but it stopped operations in 2012 and Mallya owed the estimated $1.3 billion in unpaid loans.

Last year, creditors asked India’s Supreme Court to require Mallya remain in the country. But he had already departed.

Mallya, who frequently has criticized the media, governments and his creditors in Twitter posts, said on the social media site: “I am an international businessman. I travel to and from India frequently. I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder. Rubbish.”

In March last year, Mallya was blocked from receiving $75 million in severance pay after being ousted from United Spirits, the Indian subsidiary of British liquor giant Diageo.

Banks and creditors demanded the money should be used to settle some of Mallya’s outstanding debts they are owed.

Creditors have auctioned Mallya’s properties, including his beachfront property in Goa.

Jitendra Balakrishnan, former deputy managing director at government-owned IDBI Bank in India, said default and fraud are usually linked.

“The message in my opinion is that you can’t get away without paying your dues. The message is very clear. You can’t run away. Yes, people will default. But then you sit down and find the best solution to the problem,” Balakrishnan said to Bloomberg Quint.

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