Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected Vijay Mallya’s claim that he had met the absconding bank fraud accused before he fled the nation in March 2016.
In a statement issued on Facebook, the Finance Minister said that Mallya’s statement is “factually false”.
Jaitley said that he has not met the 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss since 2014 but added that Mallya had “misused” his privilege of being a Member of the Rajya Sabha on one occasion.
“Since 2014, I have never given him (Mallya) any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise,” said Jaitley.
Recalling the occasion when Mallya “misused” his position as an MP, Jaitley wrote that the fraud accused had paced up to catch up with him when the FM was walking out of the House to go to his room.
“He paced up to catch up with me and while walking uttered a sentence that ‘I am making an offer of settlement’. 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’,” said Jaitley.
“I 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,” the Finance Minister said.
The statement from the Finance Minister came minutes after Mallya claimed that met Jaitley before fleeing out of the country and offered to settle the amount he owed to the banks.
“I met the finance minster to settle matters before I left. The banks had filed objections to my settlement letters,” Mallya said outside the Westminster Magistrates’ Court where he had come for a hearing in his extradition case.
Mallya added that he had made a “comprehensive settlement” offer before the Karnataka High Court that will help in paying off all his dues.
In 2016, Arun Jaitley had said that there is a legal process to stop somebody from going abroad.
“Either your passport is impounded or there is an order of a court. Otherwise, nobody can stop you. Banks went to court for seeking an order. In this anticipation, he (Mallya) left earlier,” Jaitley had said, adding that “it would have been better had banks started the process earlier.”
The liquor baron is facing money laundering charges in multi-crore fraud case in India, which wants him extradited from the UK where he fled to in March 2016.
Dressed in a suit and wearing his shades, Mallya appeared relaxed even as the judge is expected to review a video of the Mumbai jail cell prepared by the Indian authorities for the embattled liquor tycoon.
Mallya has been on bail on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, responded to the swarm of reporters gathered outside the court in his characteristic manner, saying the “courts will decide”.
“As far as I am concerned, I have. I hope the honourable judges will consider it favourably; everybody gets paid off and I guess that’s the primary objective,” said Mallya, who is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000 crores.
The extradition trial, which opened at the London court on 4 December last year, is aimed at laying out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya.
It also seeks to prove there are no “bars to extradition” and that the tycoon is assured a fair trial in India over his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines’ alleged default of over Rs 9,000 crores in loans from a consortium of Indian banks.