Vijay Mallya. Picture: REUTERS
Vijay Mallya. Picture: REUTERS

London — Vijay Mallya, the co-owner of Formula One team Force India, could face further charges and a second request to extradite him from Britain to India, a London court heard on Tuesday.

The flamboyant Indian former liquor and aviation tycoon, 61, was arrested by British police in April on behalf of the Indian authorities, who accuse him of fraud.

Mallya’s lawyer, Ben Watson, told a hearing at London’s Westminster Magistrate’s court on Tuesday India was believed to be preparing a second extradition request with further separate charges.

"I don’t know its contents," Watson said.

India is seeking Mallya’s extradition over unpaid loans tied to his defunct Kingfisher Airlines after the businessman fled to Britain in March last year. Banks are seeking to recover about $1.4bn the Indian authorities say Kingfisher owes.

Mallya has repeatedly dismissed the charges against him. "I deny all allegations that have been made," he told reporters as he arrived at court. "I have enough evidence to prove my case."

"You can keep dreaming about the billion pounds provided you have facts to justify your question," Mallya said. "There is no loan diverted anywhere."

Mallya caused a stir when he attended India’s recent cricket match against South Africa in London, where Indian fans met him with shouts of "chor, chor" (thief, thief).

The next hearing will be held on July 6 when Mallya, who was granted an extension to his bail, was told he need not attend. The full extradition hearing was provisionally listed to start on December 4 and to last two weeks.

Bloomberg reports that 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 bought his United Spirits in April 2014, while Heineken is now the biggest shareholder of United Breweries, the maker of the nation’s best-selling Kingfisher beer.

Mallya, who has a base in London and a country home bought from the father of triple Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, on Friday dismissed speculation of a possible sale of his Force India team.

Reuters

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