With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley embroiled in controversy over defaulting liquor baron Vijay Mallya meeting him before he left India, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday said there were two "undeniable facts" related to his "escape".
In a tweet, Swamy mentioned that in 2015, a lookout notice against Mallya was diluted from "Block" to "Report" which aided in the former Kingfisher Airlines boss' departure. However, he also claimed that Mallya told Jaitley that he was leaving for London.
We have now two undeniable facts on the Mallya escape issue: 1. Look Out Notice was diluted on Oct 24, 2015 from “Block” to “Report” departure enabling Mallya to depart with 54 checked luggage items. 2. Mallya told FM in Central Hall of Parliament that he was leaving for London.
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) September 13, 2018
While Jaitley has been receiving backlash from Opposition parties, the BJP has staunchly defended the senior party leader and said Mallya's statement was "false" and factually incorrect. Swamy's tweet is one of the first from a BJP leader hinting at criticism of the ruling NDA over the Mallya case.
On Wednesday, a defiant Mallya, facing money laundering charges in a multi-crore fraud case in India, said he met the finance minister before leaving the country. Talking 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."
As this Firstpost article points out, Mallya's statement brought up two crucial questions:
- Why didn’t the Modi government, also the owner of banks whom he allegedly defrauded, take precautionary action to make sure Mallya doesn’t cross the border?
- And more importantly, why did the CBI tweak the look-out notice from detention to just inform around the same period effectively letting Mallya escape easily a week before banks moved the Supreme Court and the issue hogged national headlines?
After the hearing in the Westminster Magistrates' Court, reporters asked Mallya for details of his meeting with Jaitley. The businessman then said: "I'm afraid this is a controversy created by my friends in the media. I was standing here during lunch and I happened to answer a question on the circumstances under which I flew out. I said that I happened to meet Mr Jaitley in Parliament, and I told him that I was leaving for London, and that I want to settle with the banks."
"I did not have any formal meetings scheduled with him. I met him often enough in Parliament, in the House and in central hall," Mallya said. "I don't understand what this controversy is all about."
Jaitley didn't waste much time in responding to the statement and said he never gave him an appointment since 2014 but the fugitive liquor baron misused his position as Rajya Sabha MP to accost him in Parliament. In a Facebook post, Jaitley said, "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'."
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.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 13, 2018 18:52 PM