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Vijay Mallya Back in London Court as Extradition Trial Resumes

His trial is scheduled to end on 14 December, with Wednesday and Friday marked as non-sitting days.

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India
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Vijay Mallya on Monday, 11 December, arrived in court in London’s Westminster court as the trial to prove a prima facie case of fraud against the fugitive liquor baron resumed to determine if he can be extradited to India to face charges over his erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines.

The 61-year-old will be back in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for Day Four of the hearing. His defence, led by barrister Clare Montgomery, is set to depose two further witnesses in its attempt to prove that the airline’s alleged default of around Rs 9,000 crore worth of bank loans was the result of business failure rather than “dishonest” and “fraudulent” activity by its owner.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the businessman is also facing parallel litigation in the Queen's Bench Division of the commercial court in England's High Court of Justice brought by a consortium of Indian banks to freeze his global assets.

Lawyers for Mallya have been granted an extension to respond to that case due to his ongoing extradition trial, expected to conclude on Thursday.

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Fraud Case Is Baseless and Politically Motivated: Mallya’s Lawyer

The Indian government’s fraud case against Mallya is baseless and politically motivated, his defence lawyer told the court on Tuesday.

His defence team argued that he is being used as a scapegoat by Indian politicians of all stripes to deflect public anger at the accumulation of bad debts by state-owned banks.

The case against Mallya centres on a series of loans Kingfisher obtained from Indian banks, especially state-owned lender IDBI. The banks want to recover a total of about $1.4 billion that the state says the defunct airline owes.

Mallya’s British defence lawyer told the court that India had made a series of serious allegations against him and others that did not have "a shred of evidence" to back them up.

She also said that the Indian government’s case revealed a "shocking" lack of appreciation of how companies function and of basic realities such as the effects of incorporation and the rights of shareholders.

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Indian Govt's "Case of Fraud"

On the opening day of the trial, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had asserted that the embattled liquor baron had a "case of fraud" to answer.

Instead of acting as an honest person and doing what he could to meet his obligations, he sets about erecting lines of defence.
CPS barrister Mark Summers

The charge of money laundering, for which Mallya had been re-arrested in October, is being less focussed on by CPS at this stage.

Summers told the court that the Indian government says there are reasons why a court can conclude that the bank loans at the centre of the fraud case were ones the “defendant (Mallya) never intended to repay.”

The opening day's proceedings were concluded with an assertion by the CPS that it had “shown by virtue of evidence a prima facie case” against Mallya and the hearing should now move to the next phase of any "bars to extradition."

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Mallya, who was arrested by Scotland Yard on an extradition warrant in April this year, has been out on bail on a bond worth 650,000 pounds.

His trial is scheduled to end on 14 December, with Wednesday and Friday marked as non-sitting days.

A timeframe for a judgement in the case, being presided over by Judge Emma Louise Arbuthnot, will be determined only at the end of the trial and once the closing arguments have been made.

If the judge rules in favour of extradition at the end of the trial, the UK home secretary must order Mallya's extradition within two months.

However, the case can go through a series of appeals in higher UK courts before arriving at a conclusion.

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The tycoon has been in self-imposed exile in the UK since he left India on 2 March 2016. Speaking to reporters ahead of the trial on Monday, Mallya said:

I have said repeatedly that the charges are false, fabricated and baseless. I have nothing to say, submissions in court will be self-evident.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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