Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya finally broke his “two years of silence” over the Rs 9,000-crore Kingfisher Airlines loan default case. Denying that he was a wilful defaulter, Mallya said Tuesday he was “pained” to have been projected as the “poster boy of all bank defaults” and “a lightning rod of public anger”.

Mallya’s statement comes days after the Enforcement Directorate moved a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Mumbai seeking to declare him a fugitive economic offender. The ED made the plea on 22 June, two months after the Centre promulgated the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance.

The fugitive economic offender tag would have given the ED powers to confiscate Mallya’s assets worth about Rs 12,500 crore, including those in foreign countries.

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“Fugitive economic offender means any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution,” the ordinance states.

Under the rule, properties confiscated by the agency can be disposed of and money deposited in government accounts even while the trial is under way. The provision is more stringent than PMLA, under which only ED can only attach the property of the accused who continues to remain the owner.

Mallya will be the first Indian businessman to be declared fugitive economic offender under the new law if the special PMLA court accepted ED’s application. Diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and a few other fugitives are also likely to face similar action.

The liquor tycoon currently living in London Tuesday also made public a two-year-old letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he won’t be able to do anything “if politically motivated extraneous factors interfere” with his efforts to settle the dues.

Mallya has sought the Karnataka High Court’s permission to let him and his holding firm United Breweries Holding Ltd (UBHL) sell their assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including state-run banks.

The 63-year-old said he was tired of “relentless pursuit” of him by “the government and its criminal agencies”. He said in his letters written to both OM Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on April 15, 2016, he had tried to explain his side of the story.

“No response was received from either of them,” he said in a statement issued by his London office, seeking to state “factual position” in response to the controversy surrounding him.

Mallya said he had been accused by politicians and the media of having stolen and run away with Rs 9,000 crore loaned to Kingfisher Airlines (KFA).

He claimed to have made two settlement offers to the banks on March 29, 2016 and April 6, 2016, but both the offers were rejected by the banks.

“I respectfully submit that my conduct does not amount to ‘wilful default’,” Mallya said.

“UBHL (United Breweries Holding Ltd) and myself have filed an application before the Karnataka High Court on June 22, setting out available assets of about Rs 13,900 crore,” Mallya said in the statement.

He has requested the court’s permission to allow him to sell the assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the state-run bank’s such amounts as may be directed and determined by the court.

The liquor baron, who fled India on March 2, 2016, has been living in London since. Indian courts and law enforcement agencies have sent him repeated summons to appear before them for trial in various cases related to the fraud.

Asserting that recovery of loans was a civil matter, Mallya said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) had “criminalized” it in his case by moving against him aggressively despite his intentions to settle the dues.

“The CBI and ED seem determined to frame criminal charges against me on the pretext of non-payment to the banks. The motivation, however, seems to be to secure my presence in India to face charges than to determine if the evidence collected by the investigative agencies demonstrates criminal charges against me or to permit me to sell assets and repay creditors,” he said.

Claiming that the bulk of the dues were on account of interest, Mallya said owing to injunctions, attachments and refusal to grant permission to sell the assets, it (interest) had kept mounting.

“Consequently, the bloated figure of outstanding dues to the banks is largely on account of these mala fide actions. If CBI or ED object to my proposal and sale of assets, it will demonstrate that there is an agenda against me beyond recovery of dues to the banks,” the statement pointed out.

He added: “The CBI and ED have filed charge-sheets against me with untenable and false allegations acting at the behest of the government and lending banks. The ED also attached assets belonging to me, my group companies and owned and/or controlled by my family under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) currently valued at Rs 13,900 crore.”

Reiterating that he made efforts “in good faith” to settle the dues, Mallya said, “If politically motivated extraneous factors interfere, there is nothing that I can do.”

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Citing reports of ED objecting to public sector banks’ claim to the proceeds arising from the sale of his assets, Mallya said, “…this is a clear example of politically motivated abuse of power with no legal basis whatsoever and behoves the fundamental question of whether the government wants me to repay the public sector banks or not”.

A consortium of 17 banks, led by the State Bank of India, gave Rs 5,500 crore loans to Mallya’s now defunct KFA since over a decade.

“Over Rs 600 crore has been recovered through sale of pledged assets and Rs 1,280 crore was deposited with the Karnataka High Court since 2013,” recalled Mallya.