13:19, June 10 286 0 theguardian.com

2020-06-10 13:19:03
Fugitive Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya applies for UK asylum

The Indian businessman Vijay Mallya is understood to have applied for asylum in the UK in order to avoid extradition to India to face allegations of a £1bn fraud at his defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The UK government ordered the multimillionaire’s extradition in February 2019 saying he was “accused in India of conspiracy to defraud, making false representations and money-laundering offences”. But Mallya, who lives in an £11.5m mansion in the Hertfordshire village of Tewin, delayed the process via appeals.

The high court in April rejected Mallya’s appeal, ruling that there was a “prima facie case of fraud by false representation”, setting Mallya on the path for extradition within 28 days.

However, Mallya is understood to have sought asylum in the UK under article three of the European convention on human rights, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Mallya’s lawyer Anand Doobay, of law firm Boutique Law, said: “I am sorry but we are not commenting on this case.” Clare Montgomery QC, who represented Mallya in his failed appeal against extradition, declined to comment.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The extradition of Vijay Mallya was ordered on 3 February 2019. As this an ongoing legal case it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

News of Mallya’s application for asylum was first reported by India’s CNBC-TV18.

Mallya, the self-proclaimed “king of the good times”, is alleged to have knowingly misled largely Indian state-owned banks about the fortunes of his failing Kingfisher Airlines, before laundering the cash to fund the defunct Force India Formula One team and other projects.

He has previously dismissed the allegations that he fled India leaving a trail of £977m worth of debts as “ludicrous” and said the charges were politically motivated.

In April he tweeted:

Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya)

I have repeatedly offered 100 % payback but sadly to no avail. https://t.co/HmR9f2VWyA

April 28, 2020

A judge ruled in December 2018 that Mallya had misrepresented how loans from Indian banks had been used and the decision on his extradition was approved by the then home secretary, Sajid Javid.

The senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot described Mallya as a “glamorous, flashy, famous, bejewelled, bodyguarded, ostensibly billionaire playboy who charmed and cajoled these bankers into losing their common sense and persuading them to put their own rules and regulations to one side”.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has singled out Mallya for criticism, accusing him of ripping off India and Indians.

“There is no place for corruption in India,” Modi said in previous comments referring to Mallya. “Those who looted the poor and middle classes will have to return what they have looted.”