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'Poster Boy' of Bank Default, Vijay Mallya Says Can't Settle Dues if Politics Interferes

Speaking out to state the "factual position in response to the controversy unfortunately surrounding" him, Vijay Mallya said he had written letters to both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, but didn’t receive a response.

Updated:June 26, 2018, 6:50 PM IST
'Poster Boy' of Bank Default, Vijay Mallya Says Can't Settle Dues if Politics Interferes
File photo of liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
New Delhi: Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is wanted in India for defaulting on massive loans, broke his silence on Tuesday to explain the allegations and said there's nothing he could do to settle the dues "if politically motivated extraneous factors interfere" with his efforts.

In a five-page statement released on Twitter just two weeks before the final hearing in his extradition case, said he became the "Poster Boy" of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger but was not a wilful defaulter.

Tired of "relentless pursuit" of him by "the government and its criminal agencies", Mallya said he had even written letters to both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister on April 15, 2016 to explain his side of the story. He released the letters to the public on Tuesday.

"No response was received from either of them," he said, seeking to state 'factual position' in response to the controversy surrounding him.

Mallya, who also made public the letters he had written to the PM and the Finance Minister, said he has been accused by politicians and the media alike of having stolen and run away with Rs 9,000 crore that was loaned to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA). "Some of the lending banks have also labelled me a wilful defaulter," he added.

He claimed that he made two settlement offers to the banks when proceedings were filed by them in the Supreme Court on March 29, 2016 and April 6, 2016 but both the offers were rejected by the banks. "I respectfully submit that my conduct does not amount to 'wilful default'," Mallya said.

Currently, undergoing an extradition trial in a UK court over fraud and money laundering charges by Indian authorities, the liquor baron said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) have filed charge sheets against him "with various untenable and blatantly false allegations acting at the behest of the government and lending banks".

"The ED have also attached assets belonging to me, my group companies and companies owned and/or controlled by my family under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) currently valued at approximately Rs 13,900 crore," he added.

Citing reports of ED objecting to public sector banks' claim to the proceeds arising from the sale of his assets, Mallya said, "...this is a clear example of politically motivated abuse of power with no legal basis whatsoever and behoves the fundamental question of whether the government wants me to repay the public sector banks or not".

Lamenting that all his "efforts are either ignored or misunderstood", he said, "I am tired of this relentless pursuit of me by the government and its criminal agencies".

Insisting that he had made and "continue to make every effort, in good faith to settle with the public sector banks," Mallya said, "If politically motivated extraneous factors interfere, there is nothing that I can do". In summary, Mallya, who fled to the UK in March 2016, added, "I have become the 'Poster Boy' of Bank default and a lightning rod of public anger".

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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