The Force India F1 team’s colourful owner Vijay Mallya has been arrested in London on Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed. He is scheduled to appear in Westminster Magistrates’ court and is expected to be extradited to India.
In February, India’s Ministry of External Affairs formally applied to the British Home Office to have him, around around twenty other Indian nationals currently harboured in the UK, extradited to face criminal charges.
The charges relate to Mallya defaulting on loans of some $1.4 billion which are owed to creditors of his collapsed Kingfisher Airlines business group.
Mallya has been in hiding in the UK, with the Indian government cancelling his passport to prevent him seeking exile in another country in a bid to avoid extradition.
He was recently stripped of his role as chairman of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), but has maintained his position as India’s representative on the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
Being unable to attend any Grand Prix or event outside the UK, Mallya has had a largely ceremonial role in the running of the Force India F1 team, and a more active role in sourcing sponsorship revenue for the Silverstone-based outfit. The team has largely survived on its prizemoney from Formula One Management, although it finished an outstanding fourth in last year’s Constructors’ Championship standings and beat much better-funded rivals.
This latest news will hurt the team’s ability to source further sponsorship, although to its credit it did land a major deal with Austrian water treatment company BWT that saw its cars’ liveries change to a dramatic pink scheme.
Mallya and the team’s co-owner Subatra Roy of Sahara – who has been in jail since 2014 – are reportedly seeking to sell the team, but it is believed that their asking price is well above what any interested buyer would be willing to pay.
Image via Sahara Force India F1 Team