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Arun Jaitley dismisses Vijay Mallya claim on meeting, says it’s ‘factually false’

In a Facebook blog, the Union minister described his only interaction with him as a “one sentence exchange” when the liquor baron misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha member in parliament complex.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2018 00:03 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Vijay Mallya,Arun Jaitley,Rajya Sabha
Vijay Mallya arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, on September 12, 2018. (REUTERS)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley dismissed fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya’s claim that he had met the minister before flying out of the country in March 2016 and offered to settle his unpaid loans.

The minister said Mallya’s version is “factually false” and “does not reflect the truth”.

In a Facebook blog, the minister described his only interaction with him as a “one sentence exchange” when the liquor baron misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha member in parliament complex.

“He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that “I am making an offer of settlement”, the minister recalled, adding that he did not allow Mallya to proceed with the conversation as he had been briefed about his earlier “bluff offers”.

“I curtly told him “there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers,” the minister said, underscoring that he had never given an appointment to Mallya after 2014.

Arun Jaitley’s rebuttal comes hours after Mallya’s claim that he had met the minister before leaving the country in 2016 triggered a political firestorm.

The opposition quickly interpreted the statement to imply collusion between the government and the business tycoon.

But after the minister’s strong denial, Vijay Mallya started back peddling.

“This is a totally unnecessary controversy created by friends in the media. I met Mr Jaitley in Parliament and told him I was leaving for London, that I want to settle loans and would he facilitate. Mr Jaitley did not say anything,” Mallya said.

Vijay Mallya, 62, is wanted in India for defaulting on loans worth crores and money. The liquor baron who founded the now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines, fled to the UK in 2016 when a group of banks launched efforts to recover around Rs. 9,000 crore from him.

Outside the Westminster Magistrate’s court where he is fighting India’s request to the UK, Vijay Mallya said he left the country for Geneva for a scheduled meeting and wasn’t escaping the law.

Inside, the embattled businessman has repeatedly disputed the fraud allegations and claimed that it was the government’s decision to seize his assets that prevented him from settling the loan.

First Published: Sep 12, 2018 20:27 IST