'Didn't have any formal meeting': Vijay Mallya clarifies remarks on Arun Jaitley, blames media for controversy

Embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya, seeking to clarify the remarks he made outside London's Westminster Magistrate's Court on Wednesday—in which he said he met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before leaving India— called the controversy a media creation.

File image of Vijay Mallya at the London's Westminster court. PTI

File image of Vijay Mallya at the London's Westminster court. PTI

"I was standing here during the lunch break and I happened to answer a question on the circumstances under which I flew out," Mallya said. "I said, 'I happened to meet Mr Jaitley in Parliament and I told him I was leaving for London, that I want to settle with the banks and would he please facilitate these discussions. I did not have any formal meeting scheduled with him. I met him often enough in Parliament and the House and I have expressed my willingness to settle on many an occasion. I don't understand what this controversy is all about.'"

According to a report by ANI, when asked if he'd met any other BJP leaders before he left for London, Mallya replied, "Over a period of time, I met many colleagues in Parliament and expressed to them my desire to settle with the banks. I don't believe I owe you any further details." When asked if he was tipped off by someone, Mallya added, "I can confirm to you that nobody tipped me off. There was no need to run and the allegations are media created allegations", ANI further reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, speaking to reporters outside London's Westminster Magistrates' Court, Mallya said, "I met the finance minister to settle matters before I left. The banks had filed objections to my settlement letters." The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss reached the Westminster Magistrates' Court for a hearing in his extradition case at around 2 pm IST.

A London court has set 10 December, 2018, as the date for the verdict on Vijay Mallya's extradition from the United Kingdom, according to a media report.

Mallya, who 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 made a comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. 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 crore.

When asked if he has convinced the court that he has the means to pay what he said he will, Mallya said, "Obviously, that is why a settlement offer has been made. The hearing is on 18th September." Mallya's lawyer told Westminster Magistrates Court that IDBI bank officials were well aware of losses at Kingfisher. "E-mail from IDBI officials show that govt accusation that Vijay Mallya hid losses, is baseless," the lawyer was quoted as saying by ANIThe lawyer further said, "There is no evidence that Mallya or Kingfisher applied for bank loans with bad intent."

 At the previous hearing in July in the Westminster Magistrates' Court in, Judge Emma Arbuthnot had asked the Indian authorities to submit a "step by step video" of the Barrack 12 of Arthur Road Jail for "the avoidance of doubt" over the availability of natural light in the cell where the businessman is expected to be detained pre-trial, during trial and in the event he is convicted by the Indian courts. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, had agreed to the request and the video has since been submitted to the court.
Mallya's defence team had demanded an inspection of the jail cell to ensure it meets the UK's human rights obligations related to extradition proceedings. The CPS stressed that the Indian government had provided “adequate material” which rendered the need for an inspection unnecessary, leading to the demand for a video recording to be reviewed by the court. The judge is also expected to hear the final closing arguments in the case, after which a timeline for her ruling is likely to become clearer.

In a high court ruling dated 8 May, Judge Henshaw had refused to overturn a worldwide order freezing Mallya's assets and upheld an Indian court's ruling that the consortium of 13 Indian banks - State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Federal Bank Ltd, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank, Punjab National Bank, State Bank of Mysore, UCO Bank, United Bank of India and JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co. Pvt Ltd were entitled to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds

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 crore in loans from a consortium of Indian banks. The CPS has argued that the evidence they have presented establishes "dishonesty" on the part of the businessman and that there are no bars to him being extradited from the UK to face Indian courts. Mallya's defence team has deposed a series of expert witnesses to claim he had no "fraudulent" intentions and that he is unlikely to get a fair trial in India.

With inputs from agencies 

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Updated Date: Sep 12, 2018 20:56:13 IST

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