Former liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is believed to have fled the country over an alleged Rs 9,000-crore loan default case, asked the media on Sunday to stop pursuing him.
“I am being hunted down by the media in UK. Sadly, they did not look in the obvious place. I will not speak to the media, so don’t waste your efforts,” the business tycoon – who flew out of the country on March 2 – said in an early morning tweet.
I am being hunted down by media in UK. Sadly they did not look in the obvious place. I will not speak to media so don't waste your efforts.— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) 13 March 2016
On Friday last week, Mallya denied claims that he had absconded, instead saying he was an “international businessman” who was required to “travel to and from India frequently”. The Rajya Sabha MP said that while he respected the law of the land, he would not be subjected to a “media trial”. His Sunday morning tweet echoed a similar sentiment.
Though the CBI got a look out circular (LOC) issued against Mallya on October 16 last year, preventing him from exiting the country, it did not request that his passport be impounded. In the third week of November, the agency allegedly changed the circular’s terms – now only seeking to “monitor” Mallya’s travels.
On the afternoon of March 2, immigration authorities alerted the CBI to the fact that Mallya was about to leave for London by plane. The agency reportedly permitted the liquor baron to do so.
In his response during question hour in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, finance minister Arun Jaitley said that though an SBI-led consortium of lenders had moved the debt recovery tribunal on February 27 to confiscate the former liquor baron’s passport, he left the country before a notice could be served.
The businessman, however, found support in Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) chief HD Deve Gowda on Saturday. Dubbing Mallya as a “son of Karnataka”, the former chief minister said, “These days, every airline is facing losses. Hence, there is no need to target a person who is a global businessman.”
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah also echoed Gowda’s thoughts, saying there was no need to arrest Mallya because he was a “gentleman” and would return to India on his own. The former liquor baron’s lawyers have reportedly told the CBI that he would return by the end of this month.
Mallya was re-elected to the Rajya Sabha with the support of the JD-S and the BJP in 2010, defeating Congress candidate TV Maruthi. He had earlier served as a member of the Upper House from 2002 to 2008.