Theresa May should have handled Vijay Mallya issue more seriously: UK-India Business Council head

The comments come on a day when the former liquor baron got a reprieve as the British High Court Thursday adjourned hearing on his appeal against extradition to February 11, 2020.

Published: 18th July 2019 06:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2019 06:02 PM   |  A+A-

Theresa May

Outgoing British prime minister Theresa May. (Photo | AP)


MUMBAI: Getting the fugitive Vijay Mallya back to face trial is an important issue for "the frustrated" Indians, and the outgoing British prime minister Theresa May should have handled the issue "more seriously", a bilateral trade lobby has said.

The UK-India Business Council, which is sure of Boris Johnson becoming the next British prime minister from July 23 when the incumbent May will demit office, also said the Brexit-with or without a deal--will not have any "major impact" on Indo-British trade ties.

Given the sensitivities in India, Mallya's extradition was so important that it was the first issue that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed with May in their first meeting, council chair Chris Parsons told reporters Thursday.

"I wish May had taken the issue more seriously than she did. It was clear that this was something very important for Modi and it would have been nice if she could have acknowledged that, rather than simply saying that this is a matter for the courts," he added.

The comments come on a day when the former liquor baron got a reprieve as the British High Court Thursday adjourned hearing on his appeal against extradition to February 11, 2020.

If extradited, Mallya will have to face fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an alleged Rs 9,000 crore.

Parsons said Mallya is a "clever" person who has hired the best of legal talent to ensure he continues to stay in England.

On the conundrum that Brexit has become, which cost the 10 Downing Street job to both May as well as her predecessor David Cameron, Parsons pointed out that despite the "lots of noise, focus and political distraction", it will not impact Indo-British trade ties as India continues to be among the fastest-growing large economies which will attract global capital.

On the concerns on the macros like slowing overall growth, he said, "of course, there are frustrations, there are difficulties and there are issues around ease of doing business but where else do you put your money in?" To a question on other issues like lack of credibility in official growth data, he said people need to go beyond "fixations" with domestic worries. On retrospective taxes, he said people are pleased that there no new Vodafones and Cairn Energys.

Addressing the event, HSBC India managing director and head of commercial banking Rajat Verma said his bank employs over 35,000 to support its global operations but flagged the frequently changing laws and their poor implementation as challenges for businesses.

Consultancy firm Grant Thornton's Kalyan Bose said they employ over 4,000 in the country, but added the industry has to rebuild confidence in auditors.

Diversified British company Rolls-Royce's president for South Asia Kishore Jayaraman said its manufacturing facility near Pune will become operational by mid next year.

He stressed on the need for partnering with global companies in such a way that intellectual property gets developed locally.

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