The tainted and disgraced Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya has stepped down from his position as the Director of Sahara Force India Formula 1 team. However, he remains a shareholder and Team Principal of the Sahara Force India Formula 1 team.
With cases of money laundering looming large over the ‘King of Good Times,’ Mallya has stepped down from his role on the board. Meanwhile, Bob Fearnley will remain in his role as the Deputy Principal.
Mallya’s son Siddharth will take over the helm of affairs as the Managing Director of the Sahara Force India Formula 1 team. The 31-year-old aspiring actor, also known as ‘Sid Mallya,’ has been the director of the IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, back when it was owned by his father.
Mallya, citing occupancy with his own ongoing legal tussles, has said that the decision to step down was taken to ensure that the Formula 1 team company remains unaffected.
A fugitive now, Mallya had fled to London in March 2016 after defaulting on loans worth ₹9,000 crore ($1.4 billion) by a consortium of 17 Indian banks. Mallya has allegedly routed funds to gain 100% or a partial stake in about 40 companies across the world.
Mallya is currently fighting a court battle in the UK to avoid his extradition to India. Several agencies including the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation are investigating Mallya for charges ranging financial fraud and money laundering.
According to reports last month, Mallya along with his son had illegally siphoned off over ₹1 billion from the account of the Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL franchisee’s holding company – Royal Challengers Sports Pvt Ltd. (RCSPL). The shocking revelation were made during an internal probe by the United Spirits Limited (USL).
USL was owned by Vijay Mallya until the British beverage company Diageo acquired it in 2014. The new owner has been conducting investigations into financial irregularities at USL before its acquisition. The alleged financial irregularities at the RCB holding company pertain to transactions conducted between October 2010 and July 2014, a period when Mallya’s companies had the ownership of RCSPL.
Speculations are rife about Force India’s crippling finances and the possibility of selling the Formula 1 team. Mallya though has denied any such plans saying that the team is looking for sponsors, and if and when a good offer for a buy-out comes along, there would be a joint discussion between Mallya and the other owners of the team.
Various media reports from March have revealed that William Storey, founder and chief executive of British Energy drinks brand Rich Energy was in talks with the team owners for a £200 ($280m) takeover deal with all likelihoods that the sale will be announced soon. However, nothing concrete came out.
Vijay Mallya was a part of a consortium that purchased the Spykar team in 2007 for a reported €90 million and subsequently renamed it Force India. Since then, the team has gone from strength to strength, peaking with fourth place in the constructors’ championship in each of the last two seasons.
The Sahara Force India Team currently has three major owners including Indians Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy, each of whom owns 42.5 per cent stake. The Dutch Mol family, headed by businessman Michael Mol, owns the remaining 15 per cent stake in the team.
Force India currently stands sixth in the 2018 constructors’ standings’ with 26 points. The team hasn’t been in its best performance this season, far off from the previous two years and has secured one podium so far in Azerbaijan this season.