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India's Supreme Court rules fugitive business tycoon guilty of contempt

Xinhua, May 9, 2017 Adjust font size:

India's Supreme Court Tuesday held the country's fugitive indebted business tycoon Vijay Mallya guilty of contempt and ordered him to appear before the court on July 10.

Mallya, the 61-year-old former Indian parliamentarian who fled to Britain in March 2016 on a valid passport, is said to owe banks in India 1 billion U.S. dollars that he took as loans for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.

The top court's order came in the wake of a contempt petition filed by a consortium of banks that have been trying to recover the money in unpaid loans to Mallya's failed Kingfisher Airlines.

In its petition, the group of banks said Mallya had received around 40 million U.S. dollars from global spirits giant Diageo but had siphoned it off by transferring the money to his children's accounts instead of paying pay back some of the debt he owes to the banks.

The business tycoon could face a six-month jail term or a fine or both if he does not show up in the Supreme Court.

The court's order came amid efforts by India to extradite Mallya from Britain. The liquor baron was recently arrested in London by the Metropolitan Police on behalf of the Indian authorities over fraud accusations, but he was bailed out within three hours.

Earlier this month, Indian Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had raised the issue of early completion of the extradition formalities of Mallya during his talks with his British counterpart Patsy Wilkinson.

Mallya made his fortune selling beer under the Kingfisher brand before branching out into aviation and Formula 1 racing.

However, his Kingfisher Airlines was grounded in 2012 and its flying permit lapsed the following year. Kingfisher made annual losses for five years in a row and finally collapsed after lenders refused to give it fresh loans.

In April last year, India revoked Mallya's passport. The following month, it began seeking his extradition from Britain. Endit