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Vijay Mallya extradition hearing: Everybody gets paid, touts settlement offer

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India’s fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya is back in London on Wednesday for hearing in his high profile extradition case, in which the Judge reviewed the video of Mumbai cell, prepared by Mumbai authorities for the embattled former Kingfisher Airline boss.

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This business tycoon claimed to have met the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he also made “repeated offers” to “settle issues”. While Arun Jaitley denied the meeting.  While speaking outside London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mallya said, “I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva, I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks… that’s the truth.”

Mallya’s latest statement triggered a political storm, with the Congress and other opposition parties saying it was proof of corrupt businessmen fleeing the country with the collusion of the government. In a Facebook post, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said:, “the statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect true”.

Jaitley further said, “Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.”

Outside the Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London, Vijay Mallya said he has made a “very comprehensive offer” before the Karnataka High Court, “so that everybody gets paid”. When asked if he has convinced the court he has the means to pay what he said he will. He said, “Obviously, that is why a settlement offer has been made.”

Speaking to reporters, Mallya said he will submit the settlement plan before the court, hoping that the bench will consider its merit. The ex-Indian parliamentarian claimed that he has enough assets to repay the outstanding loan amount, provided the lenders to reach a settlement.

The 62-year-old liquid baron, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since he arrest in April 2017. Vijay Mallya is fighting extradition to India on charges of money laundering and fraud amounting to Rs 9,000 Cr.

In his previous hearing in July this year, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in, Judge Emma Arbuthnot had asked the Indian authorities to submit a “step by step video” of the Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail for “the avoidance of doubt” over the availability of natural light in the cell where he is expected to be detained pre-trial, during the trial and in the event he is convicted by the Indian courts.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), who has been arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had reportedly agreed to the request and the video, that has since been submitted to the court. While his defence team had also demanded an inspection of the jail cell to ensure it meets the United Kingdom’s human rights obligations related to his extradition proceedings.

According to the report, “The CPS stressed that the Indian government had provided adequate material which rendered the need for an inspection unnecessary, leading to the demand for a video recording to be reviewed by the court.”

The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on December 4 last year, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya. While his defence lawyers also deposed a series of experts to claim that he had no intention of fraud but he is unlikely to get a fair trial in India

It also seeks to prove there are no “bars to extradition” and that the liquor baron is assured a fair trial in India over his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines’ alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crores in loans from a consortium of Indian banks.

The CPS has argued that the evidence they have presented establishes “dishonesty” on the part of the businessman and that there are no bars to him being extradited from the UK to face Indian courts. 

Also read: Vijay Mallya: Special Court gives 3 weeks to respond to ED’s application

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