Mallya claims he met finance minister before leaving India
Jaitley calls the revelation ‘factually false’
EMBATTLED liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya on Wednesday said that he met the finance minister before leaving India, a sensational claim denied by Arun Jaitley as “factually false.”
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss, who arrived here to appear before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a case regarding his extradition to India to face the trial on fraud and money laundering charges, was asked by reporters if he was “tipped off” to leave the country.
“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 is the truth,” he responded, without naming the minister.
Arun Jaitley, who was the Finance minister in 2016 when Mallya left India, denied the liquor baron’s claim. “Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise. The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post.
Jaitley said Mallya “misused” the privilege of being a Rajya Sabha MP to catch him in corridors of Parliament on one occasion while he was walking out of the House to go to his room.
He said Mallya, while walking alongside, “uttered a sentence that ‘I am making an offer of settlement’. Having being fully briefed about his ‘bluff offers’, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him ‘there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers’. “I did not even receive the papers he was holding in his hand,” Jaitley said.
Talking to reporters Mallya said the media should question the banks why they are not supporting him in his efforts to repay. “I
“The government was fully complicit in the flight of people like Mallya and others from the country. The government should now explain how and why he was allowed to leave and what transpired at those meetings. The nation wants to know.”
Abhishek Singhvi, Congress spokesperson “Why did the finance minister hide this information till now? Absolutely shocking! PM Modi meets Neerav Modi before he flees the country. FM meets Vijay Mallya before he flees India. What transpired in these meetings? People want to know (sic).”
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi chief minister “Not only the Finance minister, the entire BJP must come clean on its relations with Vijay Mallya.”
Yashwant Sinha, Former BJP leader
have said before that I am a political football. There is nothing that I can do about it. My conscience is clear and (I) put almost Rs 15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of the Karnataka High Court. I am certainly a scapegoat. Both political parties don’t like me,” he said after the hearing. He sarcastically described the video of Barrack 12 at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, which has been prepared for him, as “very impressive”.
Mallya has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year and is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crore.
On Wednesday, Mallya’s defence team branded the evidence presented by the Indian government in the case as “utterly unfounded”. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, countered this with arguments that Mallya had intended “from the outset” never to repay the loans he sought for his struggling airline and misrepresented its profitability.
At the previous hearing in July, Judge Arbuthnot had asked the Indian authorities to submit a “step by step video” of Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail for “the avoidance of doubt” over the availability of natural light in the cell where the businessman is expected to be detained pre-trial, during trial and in the event he is convicted by the Indian courts.
The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on December 4 last year, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya. It also seeks to prove there are no “bars to extradition” and that the tycoon is assured a fair trial in India over his nowdefunct Kingfisher Airlines’ alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crore in loans from a consortium of Indian banks. Mallya’s defence team has deposed a series of expert witnesses to claim he had no “fraudulent” intentions and that he is unlikely to get a fair trial in India.
Vijay Mallya speaks to the media outside Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday