London–Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya, whom India wants extradited for facing trial in a Rs 9,000-crore bank loan default case, on Tuesday claimed that he has not diverted any of the borrowed money to the team he owned in the IPL and asked reporters to “keep dreaming about the billions of pounds” that he had allegedly diverted.
Mallya, whose bail was continued till July 6, appeared before a Westminster magistrate court on Tuesday and later told media outside that he was delighted that he would be able to put up his case before a “fair and impartial” court here.
Accompanied by his son Siddharth, the 61-year old industrialist who fled India 15 months ago rejected all allegations of default of loans against him and denied he was called a thief by some spectators during a Champions Trophy match at the Oval grounds here.
“I am not going to answer any questions. There is a court of law. We will make submissions before the appropriate court of law,” he told reporters.
“You can keep dreaming about billions of pounds, provided you have facts to justify your questions. Otherwise, don’t put questions. Don’t ask irrelevant questions,” he said, when asked whether he had diverted the borrowed money to IPL team Royal Challengers, which he used to own.
This was the first hearing before a magistrate in what is called “management” proceedings before the actual trial begins. Mallya was asked to sit in the place where people facing trial are made to sit. His name was called out and his date of birth mentioned by way of confirming his identity.
Mallya, who owes as much as Rs 9,000 crore to a consortium of Indian banks, fled to Britain in March last year. India is seeking his extradition for which the procedure has already begun and a team of the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation is chalking out the process.
When he sought a barrier to keep away inquisitive television reporters from thrusting their mikes before him outside the court, the judge permitted that he may not be present at the next hearing on July 5.
During the proceedings, Mallya’s lawyers told the magistrate that the Indian government was coming up with a second extradition request which he would like to go through before giving his submissions. They wanted that the case be deferred till next year. Magistrate Emma Louis Arbuthnot, however, indicated that the case could be placed for regular trial in December.
When the magistrate enquired with the crown prosecution service about cooperation from India, he was told that there was good cooperation and coordination between the two sides.
Outside the court, the chairman of the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines by and large remained composed while answering media questions except when reporters tried to provoke him a couple of times.
When a British reporter asked him about the multiple flats he has in the UK, he shot back, “Multiple homes in UK – I have been living here since 1992.”
Mallya said he was here to defend himself as was expected.
“Were you in the court? Did you hear what the prosecution said, what my lawyers said and what the judge said?” he asked, refusing to go into what happened inside the court.
But when a reporter asked him about the “chor, chor” (thief) chants hurled at him during an India-South Africa match last week, Mallya said: “I was not called a thief. As two people in a drunken state yelled at me, didn’t you notice that there were several others who wished me well.”
Asked if he was relieved at being told by the court not to come for the next hearing on July 5, he said: “I do not want to say anything about what happened inside the court.”
“I am delighted that I can put forward my case before an impartial court,” he said.
Earlier before going into the court, Mallya said he had not eluded any court of law and denied all allegations levelled against him.
When a questioner noted that he has been in Britain for the last 15 months and was eluding courts in India, he said: “I have not eluded any court. It is my lawful duty to be here and I am here (London court).”
“I have nothing to say as the court proceedings are on and I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them,” Mallya said before appearing in the court.
Mallya also said he had “enough evidence” to fight the case, but parried a question whether he fears that a trial in India would be unfair to him. (IANS)