Vijay Mallya, the embattled tycoon wanted in India on loan defaults to several banks amounting to nearly Rs 9,000-crore (£1.1 billion), today claimed he has “enough evidence” to plead his case and dared the prosecution to prove that he has committed fraud.
“I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them,” said the 61-year-old flamboyant boss of erstwhile Kingfisher airlines who appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court for his extradition case hearing.
Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot granted bail to Mallya until December 4. The next hearing has been set for July 6.
“I have not eluded any court…I have enough evidence to prove my case,” Mallya told reporters outside the court.
“I don’t make statements to the media because anything I say is twisted. There is enough evidence, that will speak.”
He also claimed that no loans were diverted anywhere.
“You can keep dreaming about a billion pounds; you cannot prove anything without facts,” Mallya said.
His defence team, which is being led by the firm Joseph Hague Aaronson LLP, said a second extradition request is expected from the Indian government.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) presented the case in court on behalf of the Indian authorities.
The CPS had met a joint team of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in London last month to thrash out details of the case. A CBI official has also flown in from Delhi for the hearing today.
“Our aim is to build a strong, infallible case and these meetings will help resolve issues across the table. The CPS will be arguing based on documents provided by CBI and ED, therefore a joint team is here to address queries they may have,” official sources had said after the meeting held in early May.
Mallya has requested that the press be barred from the court hearing in his next appearance.
“I go to cheer India in a cricket match and it becomes a media frenzy. It’s better I don’t say anything,” he said, adding two people, in a drunken state, called him a “thief” outside the stadium. “There were many who wished me well.”
Last week, Mallya was welcomed with chants of “chor, chor” (“thief, thief)” by Indian cricket fans as he arrived to watch the India vs South Africa Champions Trophy match at The Oval cricket ground in London.
Earlier, he had caused a stir by his attendance of the India vs Pakistan match in Birmingham after which he had declared on Twitter that he would be attending all India matches in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy.
Mallya, who is wanted in India for Kingfisher Airlines’ default on loans worth nearly Rs 9,000-crore, has been in the UK since March 2016 and was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant on April 18.
He had attended a central London police station for his arrest and was released on conditional bail a few hours later after providing a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds, assuring the court of abiding by all conditions associated with extradition proceedings, such as the surrender of his passport and a ban on him possessing any travel documents.
An initial case management hearing date of May 17 had been postponed to June 13.
If the District Judge rules in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, the UK home secretary must order Mallya’s extradition within two months of the appropriate day. However, the case can go through a series of appeals before arriving at a conclusion.
India and the UK have an Extradition Treaty, signed in 1992, but so far only one extradition has taken place under the arrangement – Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, who was sent back to India last October to face trial in connection with his involvement in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
However, unlike Mallya, he had submitted to the extradition order without legal challenge.