London: Fugitive liquor baron Vijay Mallya Wednesday took to social media with an offer to pay back 100 per cent of “public money” to various Indian banks and urged the government to accept his offer, days ahead of a UK court’s decision on his plea not to extradite him to India.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, who has been on bail in the UK on an extradition warrant since his arrest in April last year, is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to around Rs 9,000crore.
A ruling in the case is expected at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London December 10, but the businessman stressed that the extradition issue was a “separate” matter which will take its own legal course.
“The point is public money and I am offering to pay 100 per cent back. I humbly request the banks and government to take it. If payback refused, why,” he questioned in one of his posts on Twitter.
Politicians and Media are constantly talking loudly about my being a defaulter who has run away with PSU Bank money. All this is false. Why don’t I get fair treatment and the same loud noise about my comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. Sad.
— Vijay Mallya (@TheVijayMallya) December 5, 2018
Referring to Indian media reports claiming that his offer is linked to an expected ruling in the extradition case December 10, he added: “Usual nonsense! I have made settlement offers since 2016.”
After weeks of silence, Mallya shot off a series of tweets since the early hours of Wednesday to defend the loans he had acquired from banks as a means of keeping his now-defunct Kingfisher Airline afloat.
“Airlines struggling financially, partly because of high ATF prices. Kingfisher was a fab airline that faced the highest ever crude prices of $140/barrel. Losses mounted and that’s where bank money went. I have offered to repay 100 per cent of the principal amount to them. Please take it,’’ reads one of his posts.
Making a reference to his liquor group United Breweries, Mallya said ‘‘India’s largest alcoholic beverage group’’ had contributed ‘‘thousands of crores’’ to the state exchequer over the years.
‘‘Kingfisher Airlines also contributed handsomely to the states. Sad loss of the finest Airline but still I offer to pay Banks so no loss. Please take it,’’ he said.
In a further lament against the Indian government and media, he adds: ‘‘Politicians and media are constantly talking loudly about my being a defaulter who has run away with PSU Bank money. All this is false. Why don’t I get fair treatment and the same loud noise about my comprehensive settlement offer before the Karnataka High Court. Sad.’’
Mallya’s tweets came hours after alleged AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel was brought to India from Dubai, the first successful extradition since India initiated similar proceedings against alleged economic offenders like Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
Mallya is fighting his extradition from the UK to India in a trial which opened in London December 4 last year. The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), arguing on behalf of the Indian government, has attempted to lay out a prima facie case of fraud against Mallya and establish there are no bars to him being extradited to face Indian courts over the allegations relating to loans made out to erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines.
In separate legal proceedings, the businessman had lost an appeal in the UK’s Court of Appeal earlier against a UK High Court order in favour of 13 Indian banks to recover funds amounting to nearly 1.145 billion pounds.
The banks, led by State Bank of India, have since been pursuing ways of recouping the debt as part of a worldwide freezing order. In one of the most recent orders in the case last week, they had acquired the court’s permission to pursue any surplus funds from the sale of a luxury yacht formerly owned by Mallya.