ED hopeful of getting custody of Vijay Mallya soon

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) A day after the UK High Court in London rejected embattled businessman Vijay Mallya's appeal against extradition, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday said that it was hopeful of getting the custody of the former Kingfisher Airlines chairman once he is extradited to India.

A senior ED official linked to the probe told IANS, “Mallya's appeal was rejected by the UK High court yesterday and now he has the option to appeal to the Supreme Court there.”

The official said that the system in the UK is a bit different, as Mallya needs to reach the top court there via the High Court again, citing the reason why he needs to move the Supreme Court.

The official said that Mallya needs to convince the High Court why there is a need to approach the Supreme Court.

“And if the High Court is satisfied then only his matter will be heard in the Supreme Court in UK,” he said.

The ED official's remarks came a day after Mallya lost his appeal in a UK court against an extradition order to India on charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore.

When asked if a team of ED officials will be leaving for London soon for the extradition of the businessman, the official said, “We are watching the developments. If the Supreme Court takes up his matter then we will wait for the court orders.”

The ED has attached several properties of Mallya in the last few years under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The High Court in London upheld a 2018 ruling to send him back to India on the grounds that Mallya made a number of misrepresentations leading to the 2012 collapse of his company, Kingfisher Airlines.

The former liquor tycoon and chairman of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines had appealed to the High Court against his extradition to India at a hearing in February this year.

Lord Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London dismissed the appeal in a judgment handed down remotely due to the current coronavirus lockdown.

“We consider that while the scope of the prima facie case found by the SDJ [Senior District Judge] is in some respects wider than that alleged by the Respondent in India [Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED)], there is a prima facie case which, in seven important respects, coincides with the allegations in India,” the judges ruled on Monday.

Mallya is wanted in India for allegedly defrauding banks and on money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crore.

He is being investigated by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the loan fraud case.

The CBI described the UK court rejecting Mallya's appeal as a “significant achievement” in the war against economic fugitives who have been managing to stay away from the judicial process.

A CBI Spokesperson said, “It is a significant achievement in continuing a war against economic fugitives, who have been managing to stay away from the judicial process jn the country.”

He said, “It also validates the painstaking investigation done by the CBI.”

The CBI said that the judgement of the UK High Court is a significant achievement in the context of the CBI's efforts to curb corruption and is a reminder that fugitives, who have eluded the process of law after large scale frauds, cannot consider themselves above the process merely because they have changed jurisdictions.

Mallya was arrested by the UK authorities on April 20, 2017 on the request of the Indian investigative agencies.



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