The United Kingdom has no intention of becoming a place where those seeking to evade justice can hide, British Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said, amid India’s continuing push for extradition of billionaire fugitives Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi.
Mr Tugendhat, without citing specific cases, said legal processes must be adhered to in matters relating to extradition.
“We both (the UK and India) have legal processes that must be gone through. But the UK government is absolutely clear, we have no intention of becoming a place where those who are seeking to evade justice can hide,” he told PTI in an interview.
Mr Tugendhat was in India on a three-day visit from August 10 to 12, primarily to attend the G20 anti-corruption ministerial meeting in Kolkata.
In Delhi, he held talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The British Security Minister was replying to a question on India’s persistent demand for extradition of a number of economic offenders including Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi, who are living in the UK.
Nirav Modi, the fugitive diamond merchant, is wanted in India to stand trial on fraud and money laundering charges.
The 52-year-old businessman last year lost his legal battle in the highest UK court against being extradited to India in the estimated USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank loan scam case.
But his case is now said to be “statute barred”, indicating further pending litigation.
Vijay Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, is wanted in India over a default of Rs 9,000 crore that was loaned to Kingfisher Airlines by several banks.
Asked about his talks with NSA Doval, the British Security Minister declined to share the details but noted that the broad bilateral cooperation is focused on security of the two nations and the prosperity of the citizens.
“We’re talking about the security of our two nations and the prosperity of our citizens, their ability to conduct their business at home and abroad,” he said.
“But we’re also talking about the challenges we face, and we’ve both made it clear in different ways that the challenge of China is one that faces us both, and we’ve seen incidents on your northern border, but we’ve also seen the way in which technology has changed and the way in which we need to address it as areas in which we need to have greater cooperation,” he said.
Mr Tugendhat highlighted how India and the UK are cooperating in new technologies relating to artificial intelligence (AI).
“We see today that India is not just a centre of Indian AI, it’s also a centre of British AI,” he said.
“There are many firms whose data points, whose data sources are located here, often in Bangalore, and using the extraordinary technical capabilities of Indian AI experts to analyse data and to improve the productivity of their businesses,” he added.
“This is a fantastic benefit both to the United Kingdom and of course to India. And so making sure that we’re able to do that, we’re protecting our interests, and we’re developing those technologies is absolutely essential to our common future,” Mr Tugendhat noted.
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