The Sunday Guardian said on Tuesday it stood by its interview with beleaguered liquor baron Vijay Mallya and published a chain of email correspondence with him as proof.
“Mr Mallya personally responded to our email questionnaire from his encrypted email id: email@example.com. This id was confirmed to us by his legal counsel’s office on 8 March. To a questionnaire sent to Mr Mallya on 10 March, he replied via email on 12 March,” the Sunday Guardian said.
“For reasons that are not clear, Mr Mallya has sought to distance himself from the interview. We, however, stand by our report. The email trail is attached,” it added. ( View the entire chain mail here)
Mallya, who is the middle of a controversy for leaving India during an ongoing massive loan default probe, on Monday tried to distance himself from the interview that quoted him as having said that time was not “right” to return to the country.
“Shocked to see media statements that I gave an interview to Sunday Guardian without verification. I have not given any statement to anyone,” Mallya tweeted on Monday night on his official Twitter page.
The Sunday Guardian had published the email interview on Sunday.
“I am an Indian to the core. Of course, I want to return. But I am not sure I’ll get a fair chance to present my side. I’ve already been branded as criminal. I do not feel the time is right,” Mallya was quoted as saying.
Under fire over dues totalling over Rs 9,000 crore of long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines in unpaid loans and interest, Mallya left the country on March 2, triggering a political row with Congress and BJP trading charges.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned the liquor baron to appear before it in Mumbai on March 18 as part of its money laundering probe in the alleged default in payment of Rs 900 crore dues to IDBI bank by Kingfisher Airlines.
While it has been widely reported that he had left for London, Mallya himself has been silent about his whereabouts but has been tweeting occasionally including to say he was not an “absconder” and he would comply with the “law of the land”.