UK/India: Extradition of United Breweries Chairman seems to be inevitable

After losing his appeals in the UK Supreme Court, Vijay Mallya, son of the founder and chairman of United Breweries Group, the largest brewing group in India in which Heineken holds a majority stake and ex-chairman of United Spirits, the largest spirits company in the country, faces extradition to India for money laundering and fraud charges. "The government of India is in touch with the UK regarding the next steps in his extradition process," India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said today.

The High Court verdict in April upheld the 2018 ruling by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot at the end of a year-long extradition trial in December 2018 that the business man had a "case to answer" in the Indian courts. In February 2019 the British Home Secretary signed Mallya’s extradition papers after Westminster magistrates decided that he had charges to answer in India. Mallya’s lawyers appealed the sentence but after losing the appeal it seems that Mallya’s battle is definitely lost.  

After extradition, the 64-year-old will have to wait for his trial in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, an accommodation which is less luxurious than his USD 19 million Hertfordshire estate or his likewise expensive townhouse overlooking London’s Regent’s Park.

Vijay Mallya fled from India in March 2016 and has been based in the UK since then. He remains on bail on an extradition warrant executed three years ago by Scotland Yard on April 18, 2017 (, 19.4.2017).

The fugitive, who is known as the King of Good Times for his party lifestyle, suffers from the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines which was heavily indebted with bank loans of about Rs 7,200 crore (USD 1.1bn). In 2012 Mallya was forced to give up control in United Spirits, the third-largest manufacturer of spirits products in the world, which he sold to market leader Diageo in a USD 2 billion deal. As most of the transaction proceeds were received in overseas accounts the money was not used to repay the debts (, 12.1.2017). In the meantime, most of Mallya’s other posessions in India have been confiscated and sold including his huge beachfront Kingfisher Villa in Goa, India

Despite being wanted by the Indian authorities, Mallya still serves as chairman of UB Group, a role he holds since 1983 aged 28 following his father's death. Under a special shareholder agreement between Heineken and the former majority owner of the brewery, Mallya is allowed to be chairman for life and a non-retiring director.

Mallya became internationally better known through its co-ownership in Formula One team Force India, which he acquired in 2007 for EUR 90 million together with Dutch businessman Michiel Mol and which went into administration in July 2018 (, 30.7.2018).

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