Image: Hannah McKay / Reuters
On Tuesday, beleaguered Indian businessman Vijay Mallya was arrested and subsequently released on bail in London, where he has been residing since March 2016, in connection with a money laundering case, according to multiple media reports.
This is the second instance, in the last seven months, when Mallya has been arrested and then let out on bail.
His recent arrest comes after India’s Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate shared evidence with the Crown Prosecution Service in London of Mallya's involvement in money laundering.
The two Indian law enforcement agencies have reportedly found that Mallya had diverted funds of over Rs 6,000 crore to shell companies outside India, including entities in the United Kingdom. These funds were loaned to Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines by a consortium of banks led by India’s largest lender State Bank of India.
Mallya has gone on record to state that the money laundering charges against him are “wild, baseless and deliberately fabricated”. However, allegations of Mallya having diverted funds to tax havens abroad are not new.
A Karnataka High Court judgement in 2013-14 held that Mallya had diverted Rs 4,000 crore, from the sale of United Spirits Limited to British drinks giant Diageo, to an entity in the British Virgin Islands. The court had ruled that Mallya’s explanation on the fund diversion was “unacceptable”, and that the matter needed further investigation.
Mallya has been branded as a fugitive by the Indian government, who has sought his extradition from the United Kingdom. The Press Trust of India reported that Chief Magistrate Emma Louise Arbuthnot has been hearing Mallya’s extradition case at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and Mallya’s trial is scheduled for two weeks, starting December 4.