Indian Tycoon Mallya Says ‘Keep Dreaming’ When It Comes to Fraud

  • Vijay Mallya was arrested in April over fraud allegations
  • Indian authorities are seeking to extradite him to face trial

Vijay Mallya

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Fugitive Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya said there was "no loan diverted anywhere" and reporters could "keep dreaming" about allegations he committed a billion-dollar fraud as he waded through cameras outside a London court.

Appearing Tuesday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a hearing on his extradition after his April 18 arrest, Mallya was mobbed by questions from reporters, a video from Asian News International shows. His arrest followed an extradition request from his home country over allegations of fraud.

"You can keep dreaming about the billion pounds provided you have facts to justify your question," Mallya said in response to a reporter’s questions about the alleged missing money, the video shows. "There is no loan diverted anywhere."

The 61-year-old was arrested in London on a warrant issued by Indian authorities accusing him of conspiring to defraud India’s IDBI Bank through a 91 billion-rupee ($1.4 billion) loan to Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. -- a premium airline he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later. He was released on 650,000-pound ($830,000) bail and ordered to surrender his passport.

His London lawyer, Anand Doobay at Boutique Law, declined to comment beyond confirming the next court hearing on July 6.

‘Heavily Biased’

Mallya left India a year ago, saying he was moving to England to be closer to his children. He has since refused to return to India and said he fears an unfair trial amid the “media frenzy and hysteria” over unpaid dues. Mallya has also said government agencies are pursuing a "heavily biased investigation" and holding him guilty without trial.

"Intense hate campaign by Indian media against me knows no bounds," Mallya, an active Twitter user, wrote in a tweet early Wednesday. The government of India "has filed a case which is before a U.K. court. Wait for verdict,” he said.

After taking over a beer-and-liquor empire from his father in the 1980s, Mallya built Kingfisher Airlines into one of India’s leading carriers until it was grounded amid mounting debt in 2012. He has gradually ceded control of his drinks businesses to rivals in recent years. Diageo Plc bought his United Spirits Ltd. in April 2014, while Heineken NV is now the biggest shareholder of United Breweries, the maker of the nation’s best-selling Kingfisher beer.

Mallya has maintained that Kingfisher was an “unfortunate commercial failure” because of macroeconomic factors and government policies. He retweeted a Press Trust of India post Tuesday that quoted him saying "I don’t make statements to the media because anything I say is twisted. There is enough evidence, that will speak."

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