Indian media are reporting that Force India F1 boss (and India’s representative on the FIA World Motor Sport Council) Vijay Mallya was arrested this morning in England and will soon appear in Westminster Magistrates’ court.
In February India’s Ministry of External Affairs sent an extradition request to the British Home Office and this was endorsed by the Home Secretary and sent on to Westminster Magistrates’ Court. It is believed that Mallay’s name was one of
nearly 20 on a list that the Indians requested as part of discussions over possible future trade deals, in the wake of Brexit. The British are desperate to find some big trading partners and so handing over a few fugitives is a small price to pay in the circumstances.
The charges against Mallya in India relate to his defaulting on loans of $1.4
billion. Mallya is currently stuck in the UK without a passport as his Indian passport has been cancelled and he is unableto hold another unless he revokes his Indian citizenship. He must also find a country willing to issue him a new passport. He was recently removed as the chairman of the Federation of
Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) but continues to be India’s representative
on the FIA World Motor Sport Council, although he cannot attend meetings.
Force India is a team that effectively runs itself these days but Mallya has been required to raise money when that is required. His arrest, if confirmed, will be an embarrassment for the sport. The word is that the team is for sale but that the owners (Mallya and his trouble partner Subrata Roy of Sahara) want $250 million for the business. It is highly unlikely that anyone will pay that price. The adverse publicity will make it harder for the team to be sold and to find sponsorship. The team is funded largely with prize money, but recently sold a $15 million sponsorship deal to Austrian water treatment company BWT.