Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya faces return to India in weeks to face fraud charges

The former head of the Kingfisher airline is accused of defaulting on $1.3 billion of loans

Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya smokes outside court for a break as he attends a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in central London on December 10, 2018, where a decision is expected on his extradition case.  Vijay Mallya, a business tycoon who owned a Formula One team, is subject to an extradition request from India, where he left 2016, accused of fraud.  / AFP / Ben STANSALL

Wanted business tycoon Vijay Mallya faces extradition to India within weeks to face accusations of money laundering and fraud after judges refused to allow a fresh appeal to the UK’s highest court.

Mr Mallya, 64, is accused of defaulting on $1.3 billion loans for his failing airline Kingfisher that closed in 2012. He has allegedly refused to repay the loans despite having the money to do so.

The flamboyant tycoon lost his extradition case in December 2018 and has since then sought to challenge the ruling.

But two judges on Thursday ruled against his latest appeal effort and said the decision effectively fixed the final countdown to his extradition. The ruling cited extradition law which said the person should be removed within 28 days.

The decision came just hours after Mr Mallya urged the government to halt its legal action against him by allowing the money to be repaid.

“Should a small contributor like me who offers 100% payback of State owned Bank loans be constantly ignored?” he wrote on Twitter. “Please take my money unconditionally and close.”

The businessman fled to Britain in 2016 as a consortium of 17 banks accused him of financial wrongdoing. He was arrested the following year, starting the long extradition process.

He was accused of pumping the loans intended for the ailing airline into two vanity projects including his Formula One team and a corporate jet, according to the 2018 ruling.

Mr Mallya had claimed he was being targeted in a political campaign aimed at quelling public anger at the accumulation of bad debts by state-owned banks, claims rejected by the English courts.

His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.