The former liquor and aviation baron has been arrested in London on behalf of authorities in India, where he is wanted on charges of fraud and bank demands that he pay back more than a billion dollars in loans.
Metropolitan Police in London said in a statement on Tuesday that Vijay Mallya was arrested after showing up at a police station earlier in the day. At a preliminary hearing, he was granted conditional bail and released with the case adjourned until May 17, the statement added.
"Extradition hearing in court started today as expected," Mallya said in a message on social network Twitter, downplaying what he called "usual Indian media hype."
The Indian government hailed Mallya's arrest, saying it would not spare anyone who indulged in fraud. "Mallya will be brought back to India. The government is working toward it. No one will be spared," said Santosh Gangwar, the junior minister for finance in the Indian cabinet.
India's Enforcement Directorate is currently investigating the former liquor and aviation baron's debts totaling 94 billion rupees ($1.45 billion, 1.36 billion euros), including a loan to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines amounting to 9 billion rupees. The loan was intended to buy aircraft parts, but Mallya is accused of having transferred it abroad.
Mallya moved to Britain in March last year after banks had sued to recover parts of the debt. However, the business tycoon - who also co-owns the Force India Formula One racing team - has dismissed the charges against him, saying on Jan. 28 that "not one rupee was misused."
Lavish lifestyle, huge debt
The new push comes after Mallya and nine former Kingfisher executives were charged in absentia with fraud and conspiracy by India's Central Bureau of Investigation.
The extradition request was made by a court in New Delhi which said Mallya was not cooperating with investigators, and three times ignored their summons to give evidence.
Mallya was famous for his flashy lifestyle and lavish parties attended by fashion models and Bollywood stars. He was once hailed as India's version of British tycoon Richard Branson for his investments a business empire that also includes a brewing and liquor company as well an Indian Premier League cricket club.
The failure of Kingfisher Airlines, which he launched in 2005, began his slippery slide into debt and triggered the collapse of several of his businesses. The Indian government in 2012 suspended the airline's license after it failed to pay pilots and engineers for months.
In the UK, Mallya was bailed on the condition that he surrender his passport to British police, not try to leave England and Wales, reside at his own home, and not seek any other travel documents.
uhe/kd (AP, Reuters)