LONDON/NEW DELHI, Sept 12 - Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya today said that he met the Finance Minister before leaving India, a sensational claim denied by Arun Jaitley as “factually false.”
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airline boss, who arrived here to appear before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in a case regarding his extradition to India to face the trial on fraud and money laundering charges, was asked by reporters if 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 responded, without naming the minister.
Arun Jaitley, who was the Finance Minister in 2016 when Mallya left India, denied the liquor baron’s claim.
“Since 2014, I have never given him any appointment to meet me and the question of his having met me does not arise,” Finance Minister Jaitley said in a Facebook post.
“The statement is factually false in as much as it does not reflect truth,” he asserted.
Jaitley said Mallya “misused” the privilege of being a Rajya Sabha MP to catch him in the corridors of Parliament on one occasion while he was walking out of the House to go to his room.
He said Mallya, while walking alongside, “uttered a sentence that ‘I am making an offer of settlement’. Having being fully briefed about his ‘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.”
“I did not even receive the papers he was holding in his hand,” Jaitley said.
In London, talking to reporters, Mallya said the media should question the banks why they are not supporting him in his efforts to repay.
“I have said before that I am a political football. 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.
“I am certainly a scapegoat, I feel like a scapegoat. Both political parties don’t like me,” he said, while having a cigarette during the lunch break during the hearing for his ongoing extradition case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
He sarcastically described the video of Barrack 12 at Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, which has been prepared for him, as “very impressive”. – PTI