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Vijay Mallya says wrote to PM in April 2016, is ‘tired of govt’s relentless pursuit’ of him

“I have become the “Poster Boy” of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger,” says Vijay Mallya in a statement on Twitter.

business Updated: Jun 26, 2018 22:57 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Vijay Mallya,Vijay Mallya money laundering case,Vijay Mallya fugitive economic offender
Mallya is contesting money laundering charges in London as part of India’s efforts to extradite him from there and face the legal system here in connection with an overall alleged loan default of over Rs 9,000 crore of various banks.(AP Photo)

Controversial businessman Vijay Mallya on Tuesday insisted that his inability to repay loans was because of “a genuine business failure”, saying he was tired of the “relentless pursuit” by India as he released a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking fair play and justice.

Mallya, 62, arrived in London in March 2016 against the backdrop of allegations of defaulting multi-crore loans, and has made a series of appearances in British courts in relation to his extradition and efforts by a consortium of 13 banks to recover debts of £1.145 billion from his UK assets.

The extradition case in the Westminster Magistrates Court is scheduled for a final hearing on July 11, and Mallya has submitted a notice of appeal against a high court decision of May that upheld the banks’ bid to recover debt from his assets.

Mallya’s media statement and a letter from the State Bank of India of January 2012 to the Reserve Bank of India, backing his Kingfisher Airlines amid financial difficulties faced by the airlines industry at the time, complement his defence team’s objections to oppose his extradition in court.

Mallya, who has often declared to London-based journalists his willingness to settle with the banks, said in a five-page statement presenting his version of events: “I have become the ‘poster boy’ of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger.”

He added, “I wrote letters to both the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister on 15th April, 2016 and am making these letters public to put things in the right perspective. No response was received from either of them.

“I am tired of this relentless pursuit of me by the Government and its criminal agencies. All my efforts are either ignored or misunderstood,” said Mallya, who recently underwent a medical procedure.

In his six-page, April 2016 letter to Modi, Mallya set out details of loans taken by Kingfisher Airlines and his version of reasons that led to the company’s inability to repay the loans on time. The reasons, according to him, led to “a genuine business failure”.

Detailing the steps taken by Indian agencies against him, Mallya wrote to Modi: “Such an unprecedented attack on myself personally for a genuine business failure is most unfortunate. Under your leadership I would request the benefit of fair play and justice.”

His statement to the media on Tuesday went further: “I respectfully say that I have made and continue to make every effort, in good faith, to settle with the public sector banks. If politically motivated extraneous factors interfere, there is nothing that I can do.”

According to Mallya, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed charge-sheets that amounted to “untenable and blatantly false allegations”.

He noted that ED had attached assets belonging to him, his group companies and companies owned and/or controlled by his family valued at approximately Rs13,900 crore.

“Recovery of loans is a civil matter which has been criminalised in my case. The CBI and ED moving aggressively to recover bank loans is unprecedented despite my best intentions to settle with the banks,” he said.

His conduct since the allegations surfaced did not amount to “wilful default”, he added. In the letter to Modi, he said was pained to see he had become the poster boy of all bank defaults, “accused of looting public money and fleeing the nation”.

“I have also become a political pawn about whom politicians across party lines make reference to in public statements to ether influence the electorate or set an example before several other industrialists whose companies are facing financial stress,” he wrote to the Prime Minister.

Mallya’s objections to his extradition are based on four issues: the absence of a prima facie case; extraneous considerations; human rights; and the abuse of process.

These relate to an alleged political witch-hunt, prison conditions in India breaching human rights, inability to get a fair hearing in court and the lack of a case to answer.

First Published: Jun 26, 2018 14:09 IST