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Vijay Mallya set to represent India at FIA despite being embroiled in financial scandals

The controversial businessman is in hot water over debts and money laundering.

News 19 May 2017, 17:04 IST

Vijay Mallya will represent India at the FIA

India will be represented at the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) by infamous business tycoon Vijay Mallya despite facing extradition to India over unpaid debts and money laundering charges.

The controversial businessman and former politician is still India’s top representative in the world motorsport body. While Mallya was removed as the honorary chairman of the Indian motorsport body, Federation of Motor Sports Club of India (FMSCI), it said it will continue with the status quo as far as its representation at the FIA is concerned.

Mallya is the co-owner of the Formula One team Sahara Force India. His companies also own the Indian Premier League team Royal Challengers Bangalore as well as I-League teams Mohun Bagan AC and East Bengal FC.

Mallya and his companies have been embroiled in controversies since 2012. As many as 17 Indian banks are vying to extract approximately INR 9,000 crore (US$1.4 billion) in loans from Mallya. The Income Tax Department and Central Bureau of Investigation have also charged the 61-year-old with financial fraud. His passport was revoked by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2016. Mallya was arrested as recently as last month by the UK Metropolitan Police extradition unit.

Deputy titular head Vicky Chandhok has been travelling to FIA's conferences including the Wold Motorsport Council meeting in Mallya’s stead ever since he has been residing in England after his passport had been revoked.

While Mallya, who has been accused of being a ‘willful defaulter’ under Indian law on charges of misappropriation, is going through a tough time personally, his Formula One team Force India has been surpassing expectations and doing really well. The team secured an overwhelming fourth position in 2016 and has enjoyed a fruitful start to 2017 having amassed 53 points at the end of five races.

FMSCI president Akbar Ebrahim said, "Vijay has been nominated for three terms, hence he is in the position till 2018. Only after that can we change the representative, as of now he has to be the representative because if we change, the World Motorsports council will ban us.”

The FIA, established in 1904, represents the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Headquartered in Paris, the FIA consists of 245 national member organisations in 143 countries worldwide. Its current president is Jean Todt.

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