New Delhi: The Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Monday ordered United Breweries chairman Vijay Mallya’s extradition to India. The verdict is a major breakthrough in the case for India’s investigation agencies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the enforcement directorate (ED), which have charged Mallya with defrauding loans of up to 9,000 crore.

Mallya now has 14 days to appeal against the decision and can move the higher courts in the UK. If his plea challenging his extradition is turned down, he will be extradited in the subsequent 28 days.

The investigative agencies and banks have been trying to close in on Mallya since he fled to London in March 2016.

The decision comes as a blow to the businessman, who had last week offered to pay back to banks the principal amount that he owes.

“We hope to bring him back soon and conclude the case. CBI had its own inherent strengths. We worked hard on this case, we were strong on law and facts and we were confident while pursuing the extradition process," said a CBI spokesperson.

“The conduct would constitute the offences of making false representations to make a gain for himself, conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. The conduct is punishable in India by imprisonment longer than 12 months," the chief magistrate said while delivering the verdict.

The case will now be referred to the British home secretary (minister), who will decide whether or not to order the extradition. A team of CBI and ED officials were present in the UK for the hearing.

Mallya has, in the past, challenged his extradition on grounds of “human rights conditions" in Indian jails. He has also contested his extradition on the grounds that the case against him is “politically motivated" and that the loans he has been accused of defaulting on were sought to keep his now-defunct airline afloat.

The matter first came to light when the CBI, following a complaint by the State Bank of India (SBI), registered a case against Mallya in August 2016.

In June 2017, the ED filed a chargesheet under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act alleging that Mallya fled to the UK on 2 March 2016 as a consortium of 13 banks, led by the SBI closed in on him.

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