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Force India F1 team boss Vijay Mallya arrested in London

Vijay Mallya, the multimillionaire co-owner of the Force India Formula One team has been arrested in London on behalf of Indian authorities investigating allegations of fraud in connection with the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines.

Scotland Yard said Mallya, who fled to the UK from India to avoid arrest in relation to £1bn of unpaid debts, was arrested on an extradition warrant on Tuesday. Mallya, 61, was “arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud”, the police said.

Mallya appeared before Westminster magistrates court and was bailed to return for an extradition hearing at a later date.

On Twitter he dismissed excitement surrounding his arrest as “expected” before an extradition hearing. He denies the fraud allegations.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, has made it a priority to bring Mallya, who made most of his fortune from Kingfisher beer and spirits, back to the country to stand trial over an estimated 94bn rupees (£1bn) of debt owned to state-owned banks after the collapse of Kingfisher Airlines in 2012.

Mallya fled to the UK in March 2016. India revoked Mallya’s passport last April, and the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation filed formal fraud charges against him this year. Indian investigators said last year Mallya had ignored their summons to give evidence three times.

Indian media claims that Mallya owns at least two homes in the UK, including a townhouse in central London and a mansion in the village of Tewin, Hertfordshire.

Mallya sold off his drinks firm United Spirits to Diageo in 2013 in order to prop up the airline, which went bust shortly after.

Indian investigators said Mallya had not been cooperating and had on three occasions ignored their summons to give evidence.

Mallya was famous for his flashy lifestyle in India and hosting lavish parties attended by models and Bollywood stars. He was once hailed as the country’s equivalent to Sir Richard Branson due to his success, which included brewing and liquor companies, an airline, Force India F1 team and an Indian Premier League cricket team.