London : Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted in India on fraud charges, returned to Westminster Magistrates' Court here today for closing arguments in his high-profile extradition trial. The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores. He arrived at the court along with his son Siddharth. "At the end of the day, the courts will decide," Mallya tells reporters outside the court.
At the last hearing in the case on April 27, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had received a boost in the case as Judge Arbuthnot confirmed that the bulk of the evidence submitted by the Indian authorities will be admissible in the case. The CBI had submitted a detailed set of documents to the UK court, which includes its case of conspiracy against former IDBI Bank Deputy Managing Director BK Batra, who was referred to in court as a new "villain" of sorts in the case. As per the Indian authorities' case of conspiracy, Batra reportedly colluded with Mallya in sanctioning some of the loans to the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines without following due diligence procedures.
In the separate extradition proceedings, if the judge rules in favour of the Indian government, the UK home secretary will have two months to sign Mallya's extradition order. However, both sides will have the chance to appeal in higher courts in the UK against the Magistrates' Court verdict.
Mallya's defence team, headed by barrister Clare Montgomery, has disputed the fraud allegations and also submitted further written material from UK-based prisons expert Dr Alan Mitchell, challenging some of the photographs of Barrack 12 of Mumbai Central Prison on Arthur Road, where Mallya is to be held if he is extradited from the UK.