Vijay Mallya has varied business interests, but if readers of these pages recognize his name, it’s probably in his capacity as the head of the Force India F1 team.
As it turns out he hasn’t lived in India, where most of his business interests are based, since this time last year. But it looks like he’ll soon be going back – against his will.
Aside from the F1 team for which he is known, Mallya is also the chairman of the United Breweries Group. Despite its name, UB has varied business interests – among them a failed airline which Mallya directed. Kingfisher Airlines, sharing its name with UB’s flagship beer label, collapsed in 2013, having dropped from one of India’s largest air carriers to one of its smallest, and had its government permits revoked.
Autosport reports that Indian authorities are pursuing Mallya for over $1 billion owed to banks in connection to the airline’s collapse, accusing the business mogul of misappropriating and laundering the company’s finances. They revoked the diplomatic passport to which he was entitled as a member of India’s parliament, and issued a warrant for his arrest.
Mallya took refuge in the UK last April and has been residing in the London area ever since, reportedly attending only one race last season – the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. However, following an apparently official request under the extradition treaty between the two countries, the Metropolitan Police arrested Mallya on Tuesday to be sent back to India.
Mallya reportedly made bail in court later the same day, with a potentially long and drawn-out extradition trial still to come. In the meantime, the F1 team is likely to be managed (much as it probably has since last year) by one of Mallya’s deputies – even if the accused remains its nominal principal.