Former Force India F1 Team Owner Vijay Mallya to Be Extradited to India, UK Court Approves

The displaced F1 team owner is wanted in his home country of India for defaulting on over $1 billion in loans.

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OLI SCARFF—AFP/Getty Images

The Westminter Magistrates Court of London, England has ruled that the ex-owner of Formula 1 team Racing Point, Vijay Mallya, is eligible to be extradited to his home country of India to face fraud charges.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid will receive the ruling and be tasked with its approval according to the BBC, which reports that Mallya is wanted in his home country of India, which he fled in 2016 in relation to fraud charges for his defaulted loans. Mallya reportedly owes more than $1 billion to his creditors, which he claims he offered to pay in July.

"My legal team will be reviewing the judgment in detail and determining the next steps forward," Mallya said of the court's ruling to the BBC. The Indian alleged the court's ruling to be "extremely political," a claim met with skepticism by former head of extradition of the Crown Prosecution Service, Nick Vamos.

"Although Mr. Mallya failed to convince the court that his prosecution was politically motivated, the Indian authorities pulled out all of the stops to achieve this result and undoubtedly will try to make political capital from it back home," Vamos told the BBC. "However, they would be wise not to be too triumphalist as Mr. Mallya has 14 days to appeal to the High Court, who might look askance at excessive gloating in the meantime."

Mallya was the founder of Indian beer giant Kingfisher, and later Kingfisher airlines, now defunct. He was also among those to buy out the failing Spyker F1 team, changing its name to Force India, though Mallya lost control of the team over the summer when a creditor took legal action for outstanding debts. One of the team's drivers, Mexico's Sergio Perez, countered with a legal filing that prevented the dissolution requested by the initial claimant, instead placing the team into administration, enabling a sale of the team's assets.

Force India's assets were scooped up by a consortium of investors in August, led by Canadian fashion mogul Lawrence Stroll, whose son Lance was racing for Williams at the time. Not included was the team's F1 entry, which included its rights to enter Grands Prix and its claim on end-of-season prize money, though the former situation was resolved prior to the resumption of racing at the Belgian Grand Prix after the summer break.

Racing Point Force India, as it was called for the remainder of the 2018 season, sacrificed all the points belonging to the team whose ashes were its nursery. Confirmed in 2019 season entry documents was the team's finalized name change to Racing Point F1, which in its "first" season will once again employ Sergio Perez, this time alongside newcomer Lance Stroll.