Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will file a supplementary request to extradite billionaire Vijay Mallya from the United Kingdom and will base its case on evidence of money laundering, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter, including an official from the investigative agency.
“There is a need for a concentrated approach. Moreover, if the money laundering charge is not included in the extradition case, then Mallya cannot be tried for it once he is back in India,” said the ED official cited earlier on condition of anonymity. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s extradition case involves criminal conspiracy, fraud and cheating.
The ED had earlier said that part of IDBI Bank Ltd’s loan towards Kingfisher Airlines was diverted by Mallya to shell companies in six nations to acquire assets. Mallya left India on 2 March 2016. Kingfisher owes at least Rs9,000 crore (including accumulated interest) to various banks.
CBI and ED are investigating two cases against Mallya and the defunct airline: one related to the IDBI Bank loan default case and another on the basis of a complaint from State Bank of India.
A team of five officials from CBI were in London last week. They submitted fresh documents with supplementary evidence to the UK Crown Prosecution Service which will argue the case on behalf of the Indian authorities. The evidence lists that Mallya allegedly laundered nearly half of the Rs900-crore IDBI loan to acquire personal assets, said the second person cited earlier.
“Investigations have pointed out the trail of funds from IDBI ended in accounts and properties in US, UK, Ireland, Mauritius and Switzerland. Mallya acquired properties in these nations during 2010-14,” said the second person. He too declined to be named.
“There are 30 shell companies that could have been used for laundering funds,” he added.
Ujjwal Nikam, a public prosecutor who has represented India in similar cases, said the biggest hurdle to India’s attempt at extradition is the assessment of evidence on the basis of British laws.
“Subject to approval of the court after examination of evidence, it would need an endorsement by the British government. Even if both the hurdles are crossed, Mallya can raise concerns on violation of human rights and unfair trial in the (home) country,” said Nikam.
In Britain, extradition is prohibited if “the person could face the death penalty unless the Secretary of State gets adequate written assurance that the death penalty will not be imposed or, if imposed, will not be carried out,” said Nikam.
In India, money laundering attracts a jail term of three to seven years; so there won’t be any violation of human rights, said the second person.
Mallya’s extradition plea will be next heard by the Westminster Magistrate’s Court in London on 17 May. Mallya was arrested and presented before the court on 18 April.
Business Standard reported on 8 May that Mallya has consulted award-winning lawyer Clare Montgomery, the Queen’s Counsel, to fight the Indian government’s attempt to extradite him to India.