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No evidence to support case of fraud against Mallya, says defence team




 Vijay Mallya's defence team today argued that there was no evidence to support the case of fraud presented against him by the government of India as the liquor baron returned to court here on day two of his extradition trial.

Mallya, wanted in India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores, was in the dock at Westminster Magistrates Court for his defence, headed by barrister Clare Montgomery.

Montgomery opened her arguments by stating that there was no evidence to support the case of fraud.

On the opening day of the trial, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had asserted that the embattled liquor baron had a "case of fraud" to answer.

Montgomery claimed that the evidence presented by the CPS, on the direction of the Indian government, to prove a case of fraud amounted to "zero", which she said was a "critical failing on the part of government of India".

She claimed that the government does not have a credible case to support the argument that the borrowing by Mallya was fraudulent and he had no intentions to pay back the loans he sought because his profit projections for loss-making Kingfisher Airlines were unreliable.

"The reality is that the profitability of an airline depends on economic factors, which are largely cyclical and largely out of the control of the airline itself," she said.

Indicating that it would be plausible to conclude that any loan default was the result of "business failure", she presented internal company assessments and bank documents to prove that all numbers related to the struggling airline were known to the bankers and there was "no attempt to mislead by over-valuing the worth of the brand".

The prosecution yesterday had laid out what it termed as "three chapters of dishonesty" by the former Kingfisher Airlines boss the first being misrepresentations to various banks to acquire loans, then how he misused the money and finally his conduct after the banks recalled the loans.

"Instead of acting as an honest person and doing what he could to meet his obligations, he sets about erecting lines of defence," CPS barrister Mark Summers had said.

The charge of money laundering, for which Mallya had been re-arrested in October, is being focussed on by the CPS less at this stage.






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