British-based Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya is facing the threat of extradition after he was arrested in London on allegations of a multi-million pound fraud.
Metropolitan Police officers arrested Mallya, 61, on behalf of Indian authorities after he attended a London police station, Scotland Yard confirmed.
The drinks magnate, who has been labelled the Indian Richard Branson, was granted conditional bail but ordered to return to court for an extradition hearing on 17 May.
Mallya built a fortune through his Kingfisher alcohol empire but is wanted in India over alleged debts of around £1bn following the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines in 2012.
He moved to Britain 13 months ago and Indian officials say he has refused to return to face trial. India cancelled his passport and initiated the extradition process.
Mallya, who denies fraud, played down his arrest, writing on social media that the extradition hearing had started “as expected”, calling reaction in his homeland “usual Indian media hype”.
India’s junior minister for finance welcomed the arrest. “Mallya will be brought back to India. The government is working toward it. No one will be spared,” said Santosh Gangwar.
Mallya has been likened to Virgin chief Branson for his playboy image and a portfolio of interests that has included alcohol, airlines and a Formula One team.
He established Force India with Dutch business partner Michiel Mol in 2007 when they bought the Spyker team.
He remains managing director, although conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar bought 42.5 per cent of the team’s shares for $100m in 2011.
He was forced to step down as director of Indian Premier League franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
Mallya owes more than £1.1bn to state-owned banks, say Indian officials, who have charged him with cheating and conspiracy for defaulting on the loans.