LIQUOR BARON Vijay Mallya has said that the Indian government will not be able to recover any money from him by taking his passport or arresting him.
“We have always been in dialogue with banks saying: ‘We wish to settle’. But we wish to settle at a reasonable number that we can afford and banks can justify on the basis of settlements done before,” Mallya told London-based Financial Times (FT).
“By taking my passport or arresting me, they are not getting any money,” he said in an interview to the newspaper. Mallya’s now defunct Kingfisher Airlines owes about Rs 9,000 crore to state-owned banks, who have approached the Supreme Court to recover the amount. He reportedly flew to London in March, soon after the banks moved the apex court. Since then, the Indian government has not only revoked his passport but also requested the UK government to deport him back to India.
In his interview to FT, Mallya also blamed the electronic media for his plight, suggesting that it played a “huge role not just in moulding public opinion but in inflaming the government to a very large extent”. Even as he indicated that he would “like to return to India”, Mallya said the unpredictability of the Centre is keeping him away.
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against the 60-year-old businessman in a money-laundering investigation. It has been alleged that Mallya spent the proceeds from loan given by PSU banks to Kingfisher Airlines, for his personal requirements. “I definitely would like to return to India. Right now, things are flying at me fast and furious. My passport has been revoked. I don’t know what the government is going to do next,” Mallya told FT.
He told the newspaper that the manner in which his passport was suspended and then revoked “was done in an extraordinary haste”. “First, notice of suspension came on a public holiday last week… I replied. And my reply was not considered and the passport was revoked on Saturday,” said Mallya.
Even as the bureaucratic machinery of the government has been very active in pulling up Mallya for his loan defaults, the billionaire spoke in favour of the NDA government. “I am perfectly happy with a stable government (with a majority in the lower house). I will be happy when there is a majority in the upper house, too (for the Modi government),” he said.
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