Vijay Mallya, founder and chairman of Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Arun Jaitley Refutes Mallya’s Claim Of Meeting Him Before Fleeing India

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rubbished Vijay Mallya’s claim of having met him before the fugitive Indian businessman fled to London in 2016.

In a Facebook blog, Jaitley said Mallya’s statement was “factually false” and “does not reflect truth”. “Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise.”

Mallya being a member of Rajya Sabha, occasionally attended the House. “He misused that privilege on one occasion while I was walking out of the House to go to my room. He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that ‘I am making an offer of settlement’”. Jaitley said he told him to talk to banks.

Mallya, 62, who is fighting numerous lawsuits in the U.K. and back home over fraud and money-laundering allegations as well as an extradition to India, claimed after a court hearing in London that he was “tipped off” to leave the country.

“I left because I had a scheduled meeting in Geneva. I met the Finance Minister before I left, repeated my offer to settle with the banks. That is the truth,” he told reporters in London. He, however, did not say who “tipped him off” to leave the country.

Jaitley, however, called Mallya’s offer to settle overdue loans of over Rs 9,000 crore to his now-defunct Kingfisher Airline as “bluff offers”. “Having been fully briefed about his earlier ‘bluff offers’, without allowing him to proceed with the conversation, I curtly told him ‘there was no point talking to me and he must make offers to his bankers’,” Jaitley wrote. The Finance Minister said he did not even “receive” the papers that he was holding in his hand.

“Besides this one sentence exchange where he misused his privilege as a Rajya Sabha Member, in order to further his commercial interest as a bank debtor, there is no question of my having ever given him an appointment to meet me,” Jaitley said.

The government is seeking the extradition of Mallya, the tycoon behind India's best-selling beer, after bankers have pursued him for unpaid debt by his airline that was grounded in 2012.

“I have said before that I am a political football,” Mallya told reporters at the lunch break during the hearing for his ongoing extradition case at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London. “There is nothing that I can do about it. My conscience is clear and (I) put almost Rs 15,000 crore worth of assets on the table of the Karnataka High Court.”

He said the media should question the banks why they are not supporting him in his efforts to repay.

Also read: Vijay Mallya Arrives At U.K. Court For Extradition Hearing