The Real Story of Vijay Mallya – By Mandeep Rai

Watching the first episode of Bad Boy Billionaires India on Netflix really left me asking myself a lot of questions so I decided to read more. The first episode of this controversial series tells the story about Mr Vijay Mallya also known as the ‘King of Good Times’. 

Mallya inherited his father’s fortune at the age of 28. His father was a well-known entrepreneur who founded successful breweries United Breweries and United Spirits. Mallya was not one to live a quiet life like his father. He had dreams of expanding the business and chase his own desires. Mallya grew the brewery business and became India’s biggest spirits producer but he still wanted more. So, it was no surprise when he launched a new airline called Kingfisher Airlines in 2005. By the early 2000’s Mallya was untouchable. He had launched a successful and upcoming airline and he was living the high life. So where did it all go wrong and why is Mallya now waiting to be extradited back to India from his millionaire mansion in Hertfordshire? 

Mallya wanted to compete with the other leading airlines but he could not fulfil this ambition as Kingfisher Airlines was still classed as a new player in this field. The airline had to complete five years of local operations before being allowed to fly overseas. To overcome this hurdle, Mallya decided to acquire a low-cost airline called Air Deccan. He paid over the odds for this (Rs 1000 crore), but it meant that he was well positioned in the airline industry. Unfortunately, like most companies the economic downturn in 2008 hit the airline badly and by 2009 they were in debt by Rs 7,000 crore. With the price of fuel rising dramatically and passenger numbers falling, Kingfisher Airlines became a casualty of the economic downturn and the airline completely collapsed in 2012. Staff were left unpaid and the aircrafts were impounded. Kingfisher Airlines left behind a mountain of debt and creditors were now demanding payment against the loans that Mallya had undertaken.

17 Indian banks claimed that money was owed to them and they stated that Mallya did not intend to pay any of it back. In a dossier to the UK courts it was found that Mallya siphoned more then £600m of the money acquired from the Kingfisher loans to shell companies in Britain, Ireland and Switzerland and that he laundered money by making false invoices and understating losses.  In 2016, Mallya offered to pay back Rs 4,000 crores out of the Rs 7,000 crores owed to the banks but the banks did not accept this offer. A warrant was out for Mallya’s arrest as he was charged with money laundering and fraud. The Indian authorities did not manage to arrest him as he fled to London. 

Keen to have Mallya answer the charges filed against him, he was arrested by Scotland Yard in 2017 on the request of the Indian government. The Indian government want to see Mallya extradited and pay for his crimes. Mallya insists to this day that he did not misuse any of the money that was lent to him. He feels that he will not receive a fair trial in India, but the UK are not entertaining these arguments. He has also stated that he does not wish to be extradited to India as he feels that the conditions of the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai do not meet international standards and this will have a negative impact on his health. 

In December 2018, the UK court ordered the extradition of Mallya and this was fully supported by the then UK Home secretary, Sajid Javid.  Mallya was labelled a ‘fugitive economic offender’ by a special PMLA court in India and that was the first time that anyone had been branded with name under new laws. 

This year in April while the UK was in Lockdown, the ‘poster boy’ of default loans appealed against his extradition, but the appeal was unsuccessful. He will face trial in Mumbai and he has been earmarked to have a place ready for him at the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai. However, this can only happen once Mallya is extradited back to India. The UK government cannot set a date for the extradition. Sir Philip Barton, the British High Commissioner has stated that “the extradition of Vijay Mallya is an ongoing legal case and cannot comment any further on it.” He added, “I can’t say anything at all about timescales”. The UK government and the courts, which are independent of the government, are absolutely clear about their roles in preventing people avoid justice by moving to another country. We are all determined to play our part in any case, and to make sure that we are working together to ensure that criminals can’t escape justice by crossing national borders.”

After Mallya lost his extradition appeal he sought to seek asylum on humanitarian grounds under Article of the European Convention of Human Rights, however the Indian government have intervened and asked the UK not to consider this application. 

According to a spokesperson in the British High Commission there is a legal issue that needs to be sorted out before the extradition can take place. Advocate Rajat Nair representing The Centre in India has stated that, “another secret proceeding has commenced but we have not been notified and we are not party to the proceedings. The extradition which was upheld by the highest court of the UK is not happening (due to the new proceedings).”

When Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister came into power in 2014 he vowed to reclaim corrupt ‘black money’ hidden overseas.  Claiming that he has “tightened the screws” on defaulters and the defaulters are “sweating due to fear of going to jail and fleeing”. Modi is determined to make an example of the ‘King of Good Times’ and show everyone that India can hold defaulters like Mallya to account. In his own words, Mallya said that he is “a small fry” but he is the “big fish that people want to catch- that’s the trouble”.  Why are the Indian government so keen to make Mallya a scapegoat to expose all the corruption in India.  Mallya is not even one of the worst offenders. His problem is that he was well-known and that worked against him.  

The next hearing on November 2nd 2020.

Article By Mandeep Rai, Kent 

Raeesa S

Raeesa is a seasoned blogger who is particularly interested in celebrity, lifestyle, and culture content. This isn’t her just talent; it’s a calling to keep you both entertained and informed!

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