UK/India: Kingfisher chairman Vijay Mallya arrested in London

Vijay Mallya, chairman of United Breweries (UB) Group from India, has been arrested in London on Tuesday, on behalf of the Indian authorities, over fraud accusations in connection with the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines. The flamboyant Indian multimillionaire, who remained one day in detention, appeared today before court and was granted bail on a £650,000 ($833,000) bond.

He is said to owe Indian state-owned banks £1bn ($1.3bn) and fled in March 2016 to the UK to avoid arrest. The same month he was also blocked from receiving £58.5m ($75m) in severance pay from the UK drinks giant Diageo, a sum he received  following his sale and resignation as chairman of United Spirits Ltd in February 2016. (inside.beer, 12.1.2017)

Since then he lives in his £11.5m ($14.75m) Hertfordshire mansion. Indian authorities began seeking his extradition from the UK following the withdrawal of his Indian passport in April 2016.

Viajya Mallya became chairman of UB Group in 1983 at the age of 28, following his father's death. He has since then grown the company into a multi-national conglomerate of over 60 companies. He is also the co-owner of the F1 team Force India and known for his extravagant lifestyle.  The 61-year-old socialite, who has referred to himself as the “King of Good Times”, threw for example a lavish $2 million 60th birthday party for himself at his huge beachfront Kingfisher Villa in Goa. The villa, which was recently sold for Rs.73.01 crore ($11.3m) to a famous Bollywood actor and producer in an auction conducted by the consortium of banks led by State Bank of India, was described by one of its visitors as “bigger than most hotels … cooler than any house. It’s James Bond, it’s Playboy Mansion, it’s the land of plenty in white concrete and glass.” 

Heineken, which holds a 42.4% stake in UB, is seeking for long to remove Mallya as chairman of the leading Indian brewery, but is unable to do so because of the Articles of Association. The agreement  from 2009 between Heineken and Mallya  state that Mallya will be entitled to be the lifelong chairman unless he voluntarily steps down. (inside.beer, 27.1.2017)

 

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