Embattled tycoon Vijay Mallya tried to reassure United Breweries (UB) board members that the money laundering allegations against him were baseless and he had every intention to repay the loans extended by a consortium of banks to his now defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.
Mallya’s remarks on Friday came as the government seeks to bring back the UB group chairman from Britain to make him face money laundering charges and recover Rs.9,400 crore in loans.
Mallya said “he is in a real spot” and “would like to come back to India but not under such circumstances” when he might not get a proper chance to defend himself, according to independent UB board member Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who is also the chairperson and managing director of Biocon Ltd.
“Who will come to India if there is a veiled threat of arrest on arrival,” Mazumdar-Shaw said, quoting Mallya’s conversation with the board through a video conference.
Mallya called the allegations against him “absolutely baseless” and said he did not divert any funds given to his airline to buy properties overseas, Shaw said.
He also alleged that neither the banks nor the investigating agencies wanted to interact with him via video conference despite his offer to remotely answer their questions.
Mallya left India on 2 March as creditors to Kingfisher Airlines moved in on him.
In April, the lending consortium rejected Mallya’s offer of a Rs.6,000 crore settlement.
Mallya has also made a new offer to settle with the banks, according to The Economic Times on Monday. Mint was unable to confirm this independently.
State Bank of India, which leads a consortium of creditors, has not received any official communication from Mallya’s side so far, a senior bank official said.
The bank, which took possession of Mallya’s Kingfisher Villa in Goa, will auction the property to recover part of the dues, said the official who did not want to be identified.
“He told us that a lot of this has to do with the media whipping things up (and) the agencies are also under media pressure and also trying to heat things up,” Mazumdar-Shaw said.
Mallya, who reiterated he was “being made a scapegoat”, said in a recent interview with the Financial Times that the banks “were not getting any money” by taking away his passport and forcing him into exile.