Vijay Mallya is wanted in India over alleged non-payment of Kingfisher Airlines dues to banks
Absconding tycoon Vijay Mallya, wanted on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs. 9,000 crore, today claimed he had met the Union finance minister before leaving India and made “repeated offers” to “settle issues”. His statement triggered a political storm, with the Congress and other opposition parties saying it was proof of corrupt businessmen fleeing the country with the collusion of the government. In a Facebook post, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said “the statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth”.
“I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva, I met the finance minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks… that’s the truth,” Mr Mallya told reporters outside London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where his extradition case is being heard.
Mr Mallya has challenged an extradition request filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the UK, alleging that the condition in Indian jails is not humane. He, however, refused to divulge the details of the meeting.
The 62-year-old tycoon also said he has made a “very comprehensive offer” before the Karnataka High Court, “so that everybody gets paid”.
The Congress and other opposition parties immediately targetted the government.
Demanding the details of Mr Mallya’s meeting with the finance minister, the Congress said, “Mallya’s comment he met Jaitley confirms our assertion that govt was fully complicit in flight of people like him and others. The government must explain how Vijay Mallya was allowed to leave India”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in a tweet said, “Finance Minister ought to respond. Obviously, PM knew about it.”
Last month, during his visit to the UK, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had alleged that the Narendra Modi government is going easy on some businessmen like Vijay Mallya. “Before Mallya left India, he met senior BJP leaders. That is documented. I won’t name them,” Rahul Gandhi had told reporters in London.