Indian tycoon calls money-laundering accusations ‘baseless’

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FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017 file photo, Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya leaves after attending a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London. Mallya is due back in court in London on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, for the start of an extradition hearing due to last about eight days that should determine whether he will be sent back to India to face money laundering allegations related to the collapse of several of his businesses. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

International Desk:

ndian tycoon Vijay Mallya insisted Monday that he was innocent of money-laundering accusations after an evacuation of the court building during a London hearing put him the in the center of a media scrum.

The Westminster Magistrates Court session was interrupted briefly by a fire alarm, forcing Mallya outside amid the waiting media. Television crews from India pursued Mallya, while he tried to avoid them.

“The allegations are baseless, unfounded, deliberate and you will see our submissions in court,” he said.

But the media kept pursuing 61-year-old businessman and former politician, circling him on the sidewalk.

“The answer will be given to the judge — you think you are going to conduct a trial by media?” he asked.

India is seeking Mallya’s extradition to answer the allegations related to the collapse of several of his businesses.

Mallya launched Kingfisher Airlines in 2005 and the carrier set new standards for quality and service, forcing competing airlines to improve. But it ran into trouble as it expanded. The Indian government suspended the airline’s license in 2012 after it failed to pay pilots and engineers for months.

The case is expected to take roughly eight days and lead to a verdict on whether he will be sent back to India or allowed to remain in Britain.unb

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